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Transcript of doorstop: Ingham: 8 February 2009: Queensland floods; flood relief efforts.



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DOORSTOP INTERVIEW INGHAM

8 FEBRUARY 2009

SUBJECTS: Queensland floods; flood relief efforts.

TREASURER:

I'm here with Neil Roberts, the State Emergency Services Minister, and what we're seeing is the results of the deluge, if you like. It's just unbelievable the amount of water that is around; they've had over one metre of rain in seven days. That's just extraordinary. It's more than the annual rainfall of Sydney, all in one week. [Inaudible] ... I think there's something like 3000 houses affected by it. There's a massive relief effort going on - a terrific effort from all of the officials from the state department. All of the volunteers we've seen so far are putting in a sterling effort. So we just want to see if there's anything more we can do, because there is a massive emergency relief going on in terms of food supplies, medical supplies and so on.

It's good to see also that [Ingham Mayor] Pino [Giandomenico] has been doing such a terrific job. I met him in Canberra at the end of last year. He's a pretty colourful character. I said to him at that time 'I'll be up'. I didn't know that I'd be up in these circumstances. But he's been very energetic. He's been working really well with the state government. So I just wanted to say thankyou to all the volunteers and all of the dedicated public servants that have been involved in such a massive effort. It's a credit to all of those people. It's a credit to the planning procedures that have gone on.

Let's just hope that this tropical low if you like, or tropical monsoon or whatever you want to call it doesn't necessarily come back in the way in which it could. We've got a bit of respite at the moment, but some of the weather predictions for the next couple of days are one's which you've got to keep a very close eye on.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

TREASURER:

What I think they've been saying is that most of the needs have been met. As problems have arisen they've been dealt with, but there's always more we can do. So that's what I'm here for. I've had a number of issues raised with me. I've spoken to the local member Bob Katter. I've also spoken to the member for Leichhardt Jim Turnour. There will always be issues that evolve and if this goes on for a lot longer - let's just say later in the week the low moves back into the area - there are even more challenging circumstances here. People who have been trapped in their houses for a week are having to go through and endure that again for a longer period of time, then we've got a whole lot of other issues on our hands. So it's pretty important to just get an appreciation of the scale of what's happening and also to do the planning in case there was more rain down the track.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well it's just a stark demonstration of the power of mother nature and what a harsh and unforgiving environment we live in. 60 per cent of the state in the north and the west is currently flood-affected. Large slabs of the state to the south - some overlapping in fact - are drought-affected. And at the other end of the country there are these savage fires. The tragic loss of life is a powerful demonstration of how harsh our environment can be, and the consequences of that for some of our people.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

TREASURER:

Certainly. Yes absolutely. The Prime Minister is deeply engaged in this. He's been working with the Premier and other Premiers across the country to deal with these matters. He's been in Victoria today in the devastated areas there. The Government is working closely with all authorities - not just state governments, but local governments, our voluntary organisations. This is really what brings out the best in Australians - when they get out there and volunteer their labour to help their fellow citizens and there's an enormous amount of that going on. And of course if an event like this goes on for a longer, we'll need to call on more and more people to lend a hand to their fellow citizens.