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Transcript of interview with Glenn Ridge: MTR 1377: 13 January 2011: Queensland floods

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

MTR 1377, Mornings with Glenn Ridge

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Subjects: Queensland floods


GLENN RIDGE Lots of people are very busy, lots of people have gone to Brisbane to help out as best they can and quite a few of our politicians have been there. A lady who was prolific on the news coverage, who was on I think nearly every network last night, Deputy Opposition Leader is on the line and we thank her very much for her time, Julie Bishop.

Julie thanks for joining us on MTR.

JULIE BISHOP Good morning Glenn.

GLENN RIDGE Did you get much sleep last night Julie?

JULIE BISHOP Not a great deal. I woke right at 4.00am because I knew that’s when the flood peak was meant to hit and I just instinctively got up and had a look at the river. The place I am staying at doesn’t have any power so it was pretty bleak and dark.

I’ve been in Brisbane since Monday night visiting flood affected suburbs around Brisbane and I have been to a couple of the evacuation centres. Currently I am on the road to Grantham. We flew up this morning to Gatton, that’s about 80kms as the crow flies west of Brisbane, and we landed here and we are driving into Grantham. We were able to fly over the Wivenhoe Dam that you were just talking about and the aerial view really puts it into perspective. Queensland is literally underwater, it is soaked, there is water everywhere and the impact of theses storms and floods will be felt for a long time to come.

GLENN RIDGE Julie I know you spent a lot of time in Brisbane, and lets be honest Brisbane had fair warning that there was going to be a flood area there and hopefully the death toll remains as it is at the moment with no more, you are heading into an area were the devastation is also included personal loss with that huge wave of water which went through the Lockyer Valley. What are your feelings, what are your thoughts as you head to that area?

JULIE BISHOP Glenn as I speak to you we are driving past just the most devastating scenes. The road is really broken up so only 4WDs can get in. But there is just debris everywhere - trees and buildings and infrastructure, it’s just flooded away and it is a real mess.

The authorities have warned us there are some pretty grim scenes in Grantham. At Gatton, where we are just leaving, there have been a couple of evacuation centres set up and John-Paul Langbroek and I visited those and they’ve had up to 400 or 500 people there from time to time.

We were talking to some of the people and there are some horrific stories from the locals about what happened when the storm hit on Monday. People just literally ran for their lives. Of course, sadly,

some didn’t make it and that is the tragedy of these floods.

The search and rescue and recovery effort is ongoing and just looking out of the window of this 4WD I can tell you the scene is very grim.

GLENN RIDGE Julie, how do we go about repairing the damage which has been caused up there? Obviously here in Victoria we went through Black Saturday a couple of years ago so we have seen first hand recovering from a bushfire situation but I would imagine a flood situation is very different to that.

JULIE BISHOP Well I can’t imagine that any government won’t do absolutely everything possible in these devastating circumstances and that will be at every level - local, state and federal governments. The effort will cost billions and billions of dollars. It is quite evident out here that they are going to need a lot of equipment, earth moving equipment for this will be a clean up effort of mammoth proportions.

Now Queenslanders have been through floods before. There have been a lot of comparisons with the 1974 floods, and while Brisbane has so far been spared the flood levels of 1974 out here the rivers certainly did reach the ’74 flood levels and parts of the rail line between Brisbane and Toowoomba and also from Toowoomba west have been destroyed. Now when you think about that, that’s the major rail line that brings coal in so coal production is going to be deeply affected for a long time to come. So everywhere you go you hear another story, human impact stories, but also you realise that the loss of production and the loss of infrastructure is going to have an enormous impact on the Queensland, and the Australian, economy.

GLENN RIDGE Julie we pride ourselves on the Australian spirit and I guess you are seeing a lot of it now first hand, it is obviously fairly prominent up there?

JULIE BISHOP The morale in Brisbane was terrific. There was almost an eerie calm about the city because the authorities, the Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, had been warning people to evacuate and when I was out in the suburbs they were just quietly going about their business, packing up their belongings. I was watching grand pianos being moved and paintings being moved out of houses, furniture - people were just getting on with the job of going somewhere safer. But sadly they lose so much and some were, people were walking into the evacuation centres with literally the clothes on their back. They just walked out and left everything behind. Yet they were determined, resolved, grimly concerned about their homes and friends and belongings but nevertheless saying, “We’ll get on with this and we’ll get through it”. Yet out here in Grantham obviously it is a very sombre and grim scene and people have been through some horrific times, they are pretty stressed, they are pretty traumatised and they need a lot of support.

GLENN RIDGE Hmm, need a lot of help. Julie I know you’ve got a lot on and I know you’ve had a busy couple of days and thank you very much for finding the time to talk to us here on MTR.

JULIE BISHOP My pleasure.