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Transcript of interview with Howard Sattler: 6PR, Drive: 12 January 2011: Queensland floods



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

6PR, Drive with Howard Sattler

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Subjects: Queensland floods

E&OE…

HOWARD SATTLER As I said one of the good things about this, if there is anything good about this disaster that is occurring in Queensland and other disasters, is that politics is put aside and people of different political persuasions don’t score points, they just go and pitch and help and try and find out what they can do. Julie Bishop is one of those, Acting Leader of the Opposition at the moment. Hi Julie.

JULIE BISHOP Hi Howard, how are you?

HOWARD SATTLER Well you are not in the Curtin electorate in Western Australia at the moment where it is still 37 degrees and no sign of rain, you are actually in Brisbane.

JULIE BISHOP I am.

HOWARD SATTLER Tell us why you are there?

JULIE BISHOP I am at an evacuation centre at the showgrounds here, just east of the Brisbane CBD. I have been here since Monday night. As Acting Opposition Leader I was coming over here to visit flood affected areas with local MPs but when I got here the tragic events were unfolding in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley which has made travel outside of Brisbane almost impossible. And now, of course, Brisbane is bracing itself for the flood level to rise to the levels of the disastrous 1974 floods.

HOWARD SATTLER I suppose you, like me a Perthite, thinks about this - we think about what it would be like if the Swan River was lapping through St George’s Terrace. That is the sort of equivalent isn’t it?

JULIE BISHOP It is, or lapping over to Northbridge and beyond. I have been around the suburbs today. In inner city riverside suburbs people are sandbagging, they are frantically trying to move furniture and possessions up to higher ground. People are being evacuated.

The grim reality is this flood will do enormous damage all along the river banks and there are a number of rivers in the Brisbane system as you might appreciate and they are pretty flood prone and they are expecting floods at that once-in -a- century level of the 1974 floods.

HOWARD SATTLER It goes way back to 1893, they are talking about that.

JULIE BISHOP That’s right. Well I had a briefing with Campbell Newman, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, this morning and he said this is going to be an historic event. He thinks that it will surpass 1893 and the 1974 floods. So we are looking at billions and billions of dollars in clean up costs, and recovery will take months, years.

Here at the evacuation centre there are about 800 people here. I have been working in the canteen making sandwiches, so I hope they have turned out okay.

HOWARD SATTLER Okay but what is the demeanour of the people? Its okay? They are safe at the moment but they’ve got to go back to devastation most of them don’t they?

JULIE BISHOP Well they are grimly resolute. A number of them recall the ’74 floods, they know it is going to be like that. They are determined, they are just getting on with the job. Yes they have hated having to leave their homes, a number of them have just walked in with nothing - sorry about the noise there is a lot of people here - and they’ve just got nothing and they know they are going to have to go back and clean up.

It hasn’t yet hit fully in Brisbane. They are expecting the river to peak overnight and by tomorrow afternoon it should be at 5.5 metres which is, as I say, above the ’74 level. But further back up the river it is a real scene of devastation. You would have of course seen it on the news and on the television channels but it is just extraordinary and heartbreaking for people who have lost everything. And of course the loss of life has gone up from 10 to 12 and still a number of people are unaccounted for.

HOWARD SATTLER Okay will you be supporting the Government, which of course on the other side of the political fence, in what ever endeavours and whatever money needs to be spent to help these people get out of this?

JULIE BISHOP Absolutely. I can’t imagine any government not doing absolutely everything possible in these devastating circumstances and I am here to show support, moral support, talking to people, listening to their concerns and getting briefings from the Police Commissioner, the Lord Mayor, so I can pass on information. People are contacting the Opposition, contacting our MPs and we are giving as much vital ….

HOWARD SATTLER So on this one you will be standing along side Julia Gillard and Anna Bligh is that right?

JULIE BISHOP Well I don’t know about literally.

HOWARD SATTLER No, no, no in spirit?

JULIE BISHOP Oh absolutely. This is beyond politics. 80 percent of Queensland is now flood affected, it is a national natural disaster, and I don’t think this is a time for anybody to score points. Sure there will be reviews and analysis after the event but at this time it is all about the search and rescue and recovery effort which will continue to be enormous.

The police and emergency response teams are doing extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances and they are going to have a lot of sleepless nights ahead.

HOWARD SATTLER I don’t know what could have been done to stop it because they built that huge dam outside of Brisbane to hold back things like this but no one could have predicted the amount of water that came down could they?

JULIE BISHOP Well the Wivenhoe Dam, that was built after the ’74 flood, is totally full. Currently they are able to have controlled releases of water, they are able to control it but if the rain comes again, if there is heavy rain and flash floods and the river and the dam reach those record levels, well they can’t control the flood water any more.

HOWARD SATTLER What can they do? I take it you'll be up there for a while Julie?

JULIE BISHOP Yeah I will be here for as long as I am not in the way, as long as I can help out and continue to support people and getting a good response. As I said morale is pretty high, people are calm, it is almost as if they know what is coming. It kind of is inevitable so they are just getting on with the job. And it is that great Aussie spirit which we see at times like this, people pulling together,

neighbours helping out. I was out in a suburb where an artist had a thousand paintings in her basement and she’s got an exhibition next month to show her life’s work and so all the neighbours were pitching in helping her take the paintings to a higher level. So that is happening across Brisbane.

HOWARD SATTLER Great stuff. Thank Julie, appreciate your time.

JULIE BISHOP Thanks Howard.

HOWARD SATTLER Julie Bishop, the Acting Leader of the Opposition, in Brisbane out of an evacuation centre and helping out pitching in putting politics aside.