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Transcript of doorstop interview: ABC, St Lucia: 12 January 2011: Queensland floods; Western Australian bushfires

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

ABC Doorstop interview, St Lucia

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Subjects: Queensland floods; Western Australian bushfires


JOURNALIST What have you seen this morning?

JULIE BISHOP This morning I’ve had a detailed briefing on the flooding from Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, and he took me through the statistics and anticipated outcome with the flooding of the Brisbane River.

Now I am out in the suburbs visiting some of my colleagues - Jane Prentice here at St Lucia, we are near the university - and talking to people about their concerns.

There is an eerie calm about the place at present. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the river is flowing but we know over the next 24, 48 hours the flood levels are going to reach those of the disastrous 1974 flood. So people are resolute, they are doing what they can to protect their homes and property, but there is an inevitability about it all. The flood waters are rising as we speak.

JOURNALIST And what sort of destruction have you seen?

JULIE BISHOP I’ve seen roads closed, bridges closed. I was down at the waterfront at the Brisbane CBD today, down that lower end, and watching the debris flowing down the river with boats, thousands of dollars worth of boats, just floating out into the bay, pontoons, walkways, footpaths, bridges. So the damage in Brisbane is just beginning and people have to brace themselves for the kind of devastation that Brisbane experienced back in 1974.

JOURNALIST Are you satisfied with the response so far?

JULIE BISHOP I’m sure that any government would do all it possibly can in dire circumstances such as this. I am offering what ever support we can give, moral support to people here in Brisbane, and providing as much information as I can to people who are contacting the Opposition and our Members of Parliament.

I’m in close contact with a number of Members whose electorate offices have been closed down but they are still out in their electorates supporting people and doing what they can to assist.

JOURNALIST Its early days yet but are you concerned about the financial impact on the Australian economy?

JULIE BISHOP Clearly the clean up and the recovery effort will cost billions and billions of dollars in lost production, in infrastructure, in just restoring the damage that is inevitably going to happen as a result of this flood. And of course it is the beginning of the wet season and if it continues to rain then we will see more of this kind of devastation. So we must prepare ourselves for a massive clean up bill that runs into billions and billions of dollars.

JOURNALIST And how are people back in your home state going with the bushfires?

JULIE BISHOP Back in Western Australia - it is surreal, here we have floods in Queensland and very damaging bushfires in Western Australia.

People are deeply concerned that the bushfires, in some instances, could have been deliberately lit but they are doing what they can to save homes and lives and property and our concerns of course are with those who have lost their homes and likewise our deep sympathies are with the people of Queensland. When you think about 75 to 80 percent of this state has now been declared a disaster zone it really does give you an idea of the magnitude of the natural disaster here in Queensland while back home in Western Australia we have floods up north and bushfires down south.