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Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Page: 47

Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (14:53): I will make my comments brief. I was shocked to see the devastation, so widespread across the Townsville region, that was caused by these floods, particularly in areas in my electorate of Dawson. Suburbs such as Oonoonba, Idalia and Annandale were hard hit, all of them suburbs that border on the Ross River. I wonder what was going through people's heads as they saw that tragedy unfold that night. They must have been thinking that it was the worst thing they'd ever seen. As the Prime Minister and I arrived in Idalia the day after the floodwaters had receded—it was Tuesday—people were coming back to their homes and looking at the mess. We walked through a couple of homes, and they were an absolute mess. I couldn't help but think, 'What is going through their heads?'

We walked through the home of a lady with a young daughter. Her home is uninsured. Without the generous payments that state and federal governments make available, she would have to bear extra costs, and there would have been many others just like her throughout the community.

What I went to tell all those people is that there is hope. There definitely is hope. The member for Herbert has just told us about the community effort. I saw that, too, from those who were on the frontline, whether it was police; our Australian Defence Force personnel, with the 3rd Brigade led quite ably by Brigadier Scott Winter; and other emergency services personnel, whether they were paramedics, ambulance or fire brigade. People who were directly affected themselves were giving up their time, while their homes were damaged, and going out and helping others. More than that—there were volunteers. I saw young veterans out there cleaning up the homes of people they didn't even know. That is the kind of spirit that Townsvilleans and North Queenslanders have.

I went to the Calvary Christian Church, where, within one day, they had amassed what looked like a warehouse of linen, children's clothes and a whole range of other things that people may have needed in the aftermath of this event. They were inviting people to come and get that stuff for free. On top of that, they were inviting them to come in and have a meal if they couldn't prepare one at home themselves. The Salvos actually went into all of the evacuation centres and prepared all the meals for the people there. The hope was there in those communities. The Cowboys were going out on boats and rescuing people in suburbs like Idalia and Oonoonba. That stuff is priceless. That stuff is what shines through in such a terrible disaster as the one we have seen. Yes, we have spoken about it here numerous times, including all the woes of insurance—I certainly know about that, having helped my community with Cyclone Debbie. All the woes of the insurance dramas are going to come through, and this place will be watching and ensuring the right thing is done by all of those who have copped the brunt of this natural disaster. But what I say to all of those people is that there is hope—it is there in your community—and we are looking out for you, and, if help is needed, this House will surely provide it.

Mr Katter interjecting

The SPEAKER: I haven't called the member for Kennedy yet. The member for Kennedy can speak briefly; he has had a long indulgence.