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Transcript of interview with David Koch: Sunrise: 13 January 2011: Queensland floods; foreign assistance for floods

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Minister’s Office: 02 6277 7500 or 0466 745 615

The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP





13 January 2011

Subjects: Queensland Floods, Foreign Assistance for floods


DAVID KOCH: Countries around the world are pledging support to Queensland. Joining me now is Kevin Rudd who's our - of course our Foreign Minister and also an MP here in Brisbane. Kevin good to see you...

KEVIN RUDD: David welcome to my electorate.

DAVID KOCH: Yeah I was going to say, tell us about your home patch first.

KEVIN RUDD: I've been out this morning. I mean the good news is probably in five words. ‘Thank God it stopped raining’. And that's been the big difference. Had it kept raining in the catchment in the last 36 hours we'd be in all sorts of major trouble this morning, where this original projections about 5.6 etcetera would have held. So let's just keep a very close weather eye on what happens in terms of further rainfall in the catchment.

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But in my area, yesterday lots of houses going under, hundreds if not thousands and the suburb of West End which is just around that way, very badly affected. Sandbagging in and around Bulimba so far has held and that's good, that's where I've been this morning and it's below the ‘74 peak. Others and this often escapes people attention, living alongside the creek systems which feed, you know the Brisbane River, have also been badly affected.

Suburbs of Norman Park which is where I live, though I'm higher, people down closer to the creek have been badly affected as well.

DAVID KOCH: Okay. And the community spirit though has been amazing with people helping each other hasn't it? You've been seeing that first hand.

KEVIN RUDD: It's been - it takes your breath away actually. Like yesterday I'll give you one small example; sandbagging, very practical task in the middle of a flood, so council workers working their guts out getting the sand into the bags but the distribution system was falling down because there's just not enough people.

And so sand bags were being dropped at a local football club, the Morningside AFL with two council workers to distribute to the local community. Local community blokes saw that and said it's not working and so they organised about 120 locals in there into squads of local distribution systems out to the local community. No coordination from government, nothing, just happened and happened perfectly. More efficient - I said yesterday than Rommel's 5th field army...

DAVID KOCH: [Laughs] It is amazing, I know the Queensland Reds Super 14 team, they were sandbagging Ballymore and then went out to the local community, so everyone is pitching in, not only locally but also around the world. I've just been travelling in Sri Lanka and been to the Moldavite, it is the talking point of everyone over there, you say you're Australian, they say send our best wishes back to the Queenslanders.

KEVIN RUDD: Well wearing my other hat which is Minister of Foreign Affairs, we've been inundated with expressions of solidarity, support and offers of military aid, that is how do you physically get people out as well as other forms of assistance as well.

And yesterday the Indonesian Foreign Minister was on the phone to me, they're sticking money into the Premier's appeal here to help those families who fall through the cracks. I would say at least 100 governments around the world have been on the phone to myself, the Prime Minister expressing solidarity and support.

The thing about Australia is we're use to going out and helping, you know, there's bad things happen in the world, we say what are we going to do about it and off we go and we do things and the good people of Australia put their hand in their pocket and they provide money.

It's unusual for the world to see us in trouble and so when they see us in trouble I think there's a natural response - well the Australians are always there for us, let's let them know that they're not alone which is a good sense of being part of the human family.

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DAVID KOCH: Absolutely and also it puts pay to a lot of the cynics, you know, in our community that say we're giving aid to others in their time of need, we don't get it back, we helped the Indonesians during the tsunami, what are they doing for us, well they are doing something for us, they feel our pain as much as we felt their pain in the tsunami.

KEVIN RUDD: Well look I find this right across the world. I mean I simply measure it by the volume of communications. Like I've been in this business for a while in one capacity or another and this is quite spontaneous from across the region, across the world, far-flung Africa, Latin America, people ringing in saying what's happening, is there any way we can help and it's been a genuine expression of international concern.

On the BBC yesterday they were asking me well why haven't we taken for example offers of military assistance, to which I say, this is a sunburnt country, you know, a land of flood and drought, we're used to it, we're not used to it on this scale in Queensland but our national disaster preparedness is pretty good by international standards.

The worst thing you can do is have a whole lot of uncoordinated delivery of stuff from around the world plonked on your doorstep, whereas it's far better to work within the systems that we've got. A

nd I know these defence professionals really well, the SES guys and the rest that if there is any capability need, where they say we need X, these guys have no modesty about them, they'll say yep, they've got it, we need it and we haven't got to that stage and so, you know, people should just bear that in mind when they ask well why aren't we taking X from America and Y from Britain etcetera.

DAVID KOCH: Absolutely and Mel was just interviewing Mick Slater who's looking after recovery. There's no bloke better qualified to actually head that up. The response federally and State wise - as I said I've been out of the country but speaking to my family, mum and my brothers and sisters last night, so impressed with - we never like to give plaudits to politicians, you're great we think boys...

KEVIN RUDD: That's an unusual remark from you [laughs].

DAVID KOCH: ...but the work Anna Bligh has done and the authorities here has been extraordinary.

KEVIN RUDD: Well look I was talking to Anna the other night and in fact I was with her family down in - Anna's electorate is in my federal electorate so it's right in the middle of West End which is where all the water's coming in so she's acutely conscious at a community level what's happening.

But what she's doing I think with her regular statements is simply answering the basic need which people have at this time which is what is happening, basic delivery of information to make sure that there are available numbers for people to contact in emergencies.

This bread and butter stuff I think Anna's handled very well. Secondly she's worked really well with both the other level of government, with the Feds, ourselves, but also with

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Campbell Newman from the Brisbane City Council and also with the other local government authorities’ right across the state.

DAVID KOCH: No it has been impressive. Good to see you, thanks for taking time. Give our best to all your local constituents too.

KEVIN RUDD: [Indistinct] folk who have chipped into the Queensland Premier's appeal, just down the barrel, thank you, it really does count because there are some families who are always going to fall through the cracks and that's where the money helps.

DAVID KOCH: Exactly. All right mate good to see you.