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Transcript with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News: 13 January 2011: visit to Gatton, Grantham and Lockyer Valley; Queensland floods

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The Hon Julie Bishop, MP Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Deputy Leader of the Opposition Member for Curtin

Sky News with Kieran Gilbert

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Subjects: Visit to Gatton, Grantham and Lockyer Valley; Queensland floods


KIERAN GILBERT Susanne thanks, and Julie Bishop has just returned from a tour of the Lockyer Valley. What have you been up to, was it a chopper flight, is that what it was?

JULIE BISHOP Yes Kieran, we took a helicopter up to Gatton, it’s the only way to get in, visited an evacuation centre that has been set up there. They’ve had up to 400, 500 people there since Monday night and they are expecting some more to come in today. And then we took a 4WD to Grantham, it’s the only way to get in as the road is really broken up, and it has been described as an inland tsunami and I can appreciate why. The road in just has scenes of devastation - all the fields are covered in upturned cars and tractors and equipment. A light plane was in the streets of Grantham. And when we got there the army and the police were there, the task today is to search for those unaccounted for. There are still about 12, as I understand it, people that haven’t been accounted for from the town and there are about 120 army personnel, 90 of them doing the search task to try and find these people. Now cars have been located piled up under bridges and they have to search those so it is a pretty grim task, it is pretty horrific scenes.

KIERAN GILBERT We’ve heard some reports already, unconfirmed reports, that Police Commander, Deputy Commander wasn’t going to confirm, that scene under the bridge in Grantham but it just sounds horrific.

JULIE BISHOP The town looks like it has been hit by a bomb, there is debris everywhere. And just to put it in perspective there would have been a lovely old building on one of the corners, it is a house about 120 years old, it is just devastated. It stood the test of time for 120 years but not these floods. And talking to the local people there were some horrific stories. They estimate that the flood waters rose about 3 metres in just 20 minutes on Monday so people just had no time at all to prepare and they literally ran for their lives. Some sadly didn’t obviously make it and some are still to be found.

KIERAN GILBERT Surely the gravity of that, the scale of it. What are the military, you said 120, are the Black Hawks up there visible and what is the nature of the military involvement?

JULIE BISHOP There are a lot of army trucks along the road and a lot of personnel. As I said we were told there were 120 and 90 of them will be carrying out the search task. They are out in the fields trying to find cars and equipment where people might be. The debris, the mud, it is just a horrific scene. It is going to be very difficult for them to locate people and these stories have to be checked out. For example, one family have not been accounted for, yet today one eyewitness said no he thinks he saw them evacuated yet they can’t match up the names of the people from the evacuation centres. So there is a massive task of trying to match eyewitness stories with the names of people who have already reached evacuation centres and that is going to be a very long job.

KIERAN GILBERT The morale in the evacuation centre in Gatton, what is it like? It must be so sad for all of those residents who obviously in such a small place, everyone would have known someone

who was lost.

JULIE BISHOP It’s a very different feel than the evacuation centres here in Brisbane, clearly. People have been through very traumatic experiences, they are very stressed, they are tired, they are frustrated and there is a real feeling of sadness. This is going to take a long time to rebuild and reconstruct a town like Grantham. It really is such a shocking scene and I can’t imagine the task ahead of those army personnel.

The police are doing a magnificent job, they showed us around, took us down the various streets, the Deputy Premier was there as well, and so we were able to see first hand the devastation through what would have been a delightful little town.

KIERAN GILBERT So how long do you think, what is your sense, is it going to take years? It is only a small place, can it be rebuilt?

JULIE BISHOP People want to rebuild, this is their home, they want to stay there but when you look at the….

KIERAN GILBERT Sorry to interrupt Julie Bishop, I am just getting some directions from our studio. What was that? I think we’ve got the Premier Anna Bligh, it could be something urgent, we’ll cross to that now.

[Interrupt for Premier Anna Bligh’s press conference]

PRESENTER Lets return now to Kieran Gilbert who is in Brisbane and he is with the Deputy Liberal Leader Julie Bishop.

KIERAN GILBERT Thanks Susanne. Yes we interrupted our interview for that breaking news, that terrible news, a 24 year old in Durack out towards Ipswich apparently one of the outer suburbs went back to his father’s property to check it out, obviously prematurely, and Anna Bligh sending the message, “just don’t risk it”.

JULIE BISHOP That is heartbreaking news, another tragedy, and it does underscore how dangerous these flood waters are. It might look benign, the waters might be subsiding, but it is still so dangerous and our hearts go out to the families of those who have lost people in these floods. It is just real tragedy here.

KIERAN GILBERT Julie Bishop from here on in what is your plan, are you going to hang around and try and help out as much as you can?

JULIE BISHOP Well I have been here since Monday night and it unfolds in a different way every day. We’ve seen the terrible tragedy in the Lockyer Valley, and I had the opportunity to travel out there today. Flying back in over Ipswich it was really putting it in perspective for me. Queensland is literally soaking, it is under water, and if there is anything that I can do here I will certainly continue to do that.

I visited evacuation centres giving people support, listening to their concerns. For example in Gatton one person told me they wanted flour. They have found some bakers and they now need the flour so they can make some fresh bread for the people who are staying the evacuation centres. So there is a lot to do. It really is an unfolding drama. Even today when the waters didn’t reach the levels of the ’74 floods, even today we are hearing these terrible stories of tragedy.

KIERAN GILBERT It’s shocking. Julie Bishop, appreciate your time. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date after your trip out to Grantham and we’ll stay in touch over the next few days.

JULIE BISHOP Thanks Kieran