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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 583

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (2:30 PM) —Mr Speaker, on indulgence, I rise to provide the House with an update on the Queensland flooding situation. In recent weeks and months Queenslanders have faced severe storms, tropical cyclones and extensive flooding. Today, 62 per cent of Queensland is under water and 35 shires have been declared eligible for disaster assistance. The damage bill is over $100 million and is climbing. In Ingham, the Herbert River is over 12 metres. I understand that many homes have been significantly damaged by floodwaters. A number of towns across the state are now completely isolated, and it is not over yet. The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast that more rain and another tropical cyclone are on the way.

The government has been monitoring the situation closely. Last night I spoke with the Queensland Premier, who shared the devastating impact of the flooding across the state with me. The Premier informs me that Queensland’s disaster management system is now in full swing. The government is currently providing a range of assistance to Queensland and I confirm our readiness to provide additional assistance should it be required. Commonwealth financial assistance is already being provided under the natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements, the NDRRA, to assist with emergency food, accommodation, essential repairs and hardship grants. This morning the Australian government’s disaster response plan, COMDISPLAN, was activated to enable our defence forces to transport aviation fuel from Townsville to Ingham to assist in supporting rescue and relief efforts. The Commonwealth stands ready to provide additional assistance to Queensland should the state government’s resources become exhausted.

On behalf of all Australians I offer our thoughts and our prayers to all those Queenslanders affected today by these floods.