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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 354

Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (19:00): I rise to support the comments of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, in question time today when they spoke about the floods that have affected most of Queensland recently, and in particular their comments about the memorials and the 12-month ceremonies that have happened in my electorate of Wright. Twelve months on, one of the challenges we face in the electorate is ensuring that, as Australians and Queenslanders, we do not forget the tremendous suffering, the loss of life and the heartache—the scars still remaining in communities will take years to heal. My role as a local member is to make sure that no-one forgets those days last year.

Recently, a ceremony was conducted that was attended by the Prime Minister, the Queensland Premier, the Governor-General, the Queensland Governor and Senator Ludwig. It was chaired by the local mayor and attended by all the councillors. I want to mention particularly one of the unsung heroes in this. He was a relatively new bloke to the district, Ian Flynn, the new CEO of the council. Here is a bloke who had taken on a new role at a bigger council. He had come to the Lockyer Valley from another part of my electorate, Boonah, where he had been CEO of the shire. Before he could get his feet under the desk he was faced with what was possibly one of the greatest natural disasters that the south-east corner of Queensland has seen. Ian's tenacity and commitment in rebuilding that area has made him one of the unsung heroes. Some say that what does not kill you makes you stronger. I can assure you that Ian Flynn, when he visits Canberra this week, will be seen to be a stronger person from having experienced those floods and having been thrust into the community.

There were a number of ceremonies throughout the electorate that commemorated the memories of those who died and celebrated those people who made it through the floods. One in particular was an early morning service at Grantham at which they let go a heap of little butterflies to represent moving on. Another ceremony later that evening was run with Councillor Ian Friend as the MC. It was not flash and it was not choreographed but, jingoes, it was a good ceremony. It was just one of those ones that come from the heart. It was part of the healing process. Everyone deals with grief in their own way, but the community is stronger for having those 12 months. Some of them say that they do not want to revisit it again in 12 months time. They have done a 12-month gig and they just want to roll on and get on with life. There were a number of other ceremonies around the area, obviously, but because the area affected was so large I could not get to all of them. Some of them were celebrated in local pubs, where people just sat around, had a beer and remembered the locals who are no longer in their midst. Each community chose to celebrate or grieve in its own special way.

What do we learn from it as leaders? One of the most devastating things that could happen to a family, having been evacuated from their home, would be to return to their home to find it inundated with four to six feet of water. Then, knowing in their heart that they have paid insurance premiums for the last 20 years, they get a hydrology report covered by an inspection from an appraisal agent who tells them that the flood that has inundated their house is riverine flooding and they are no longer insured. Today we on the Standing Committee on Economics took evidence from the Insurance Council and a number of other peak bodies in a round forum. I will be working closely with government to try to find some standard definitions for floods that will, hopefully, benefit all Australians.

In closing, I pass on my thoughts and prayers to the rest of Queensland, in particular the western parts: Roma, Mitchell, St George. They are communities that I am very familiar with and which are currently inundated with water. I understand the devastation that goes with flooding but, at the other end of the spectrum, I understand the generosity of Australians in trying to assist these communities.