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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News: 3 February 2011: Canberra: Tropical Cyclone Yasi; Commonwealth Disaster Assistance

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Hon. Robert McClelland MP Attorney-General

Attorney-General Transcript Page 1 of 3





Subject: Tropical Cyclone Yasi, Commonwealth Disaster Assistance.


KIERAN GILBERT: Attorney-General, thank you for your time. Ah, can you start off by talking through some of the details of the Federal Government assistance? Obviously the ADF are a key part.

ROBERT McCLELLAND: Yeah well there’s four thousand troops in Townsville ready to go out and assist with the clean up. There’s also the transport of water and equipment, such as generators into the area.

And I think it’s probably about now that they’d be looking at getting aircraft up to survey the whole area to see the extent of the damage, in particular around Tully, Cardwell and so forth. But also to assess the extent of damage to infrastructure such as the electricity grid. Essentially our role, through Emergency Management Australia, is to coordinate assets that can be brought in as required to assist Queensland.

GILBERT: And in terms of the payments? You oversee that as well. Those disaster relief payments that are, for those of our viewers who haven’t caught up yet, those payments are being extended to the cyclone victims beyond of course the flood victims.

McCLELLAND: Yes. Nineteen new local government areas that have been affected by the cyclone; people within those will be eligible for them if they’ve suffered adversely as a result of the cyclone. This includes being kept out of their homes, utilities cut off for forty-eight hours, damage to their home, serious injuries and so forth; they may be entitled to claim under that.

There’s also natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements, which is a ‘knock for knock’ arrangement between the Commonwealth and the Queensland government. No doubt Queensland is assessing what they’ll require under these arrangements, some of which have been activated. And then they will seek assistance from us under that program as well.

GILBERT: That’s infrastructure as well as homes or just infrastructure?

Attorney-General Transcript Page 2 of 3

McCLELLAND: It covers personal hardship including some damage to property - not intended to be insurance. It can potentially get to a level where business assistance is provided and also, of course, funding for infrastructure as requested.

GILBERT: I understand from what the Prime Minister was saying, there’s no plan to extend the levy - that any further spend will come from budget cuts. Is that right?

McCLELLAND: That’s right and that’s been confirmed by the Prime Minister earlier today, yes.

GILBERT: Okay, well… Is it fair to say, Attorney-General, that the worst fears yesterday- a massive storm system…


GILBERT: But is it fair to say that within official ranks today there is a sense of relief?

McCLELLAND: Yes, an unquestionable a sense of relief, but I think some credit’s got to go to Queensland. Some valuable lessons have been learned from ‘Cyclone Larry’.

I’ve got to give credit to the Queensland emergency responders. I think it is a real example of resilience in communities, of people working together. Looking at even cleaning up yards so debris wasn’t flying around in the air and injuring people. The evacuation procedures as well as the expertise of the first responders has really proven to be strong.

Now, here’s going to be a lot of damage, a lot of hardship, but it could have been much worse if those lessons hadn’t been learnt and applied. I think it’s something they can take real credit from.

GILBERT: And you were at that crisis meeting this morning with the Queensland Emergency Management, via the, the teleconference. We’ve heard that Mission Beach and Tully are the worst hit areas.


GILBERT: Around there as well? Are there any smaller towns and so on where the military and emergency services might not have accessed yet, we might see some further sad news? Hopefully not of course.

McCLELLAND: That is a possibility. There are some local communities that haven’t been accessed there. There’s the township of Cardwell which, at this morning hadn’t been, hadn’t been fully assessed. I would expect that they’re doing that now in fact. There is a possibility, there are people who’ve been injured or worse could be located. We hope not, but it’s certainly, something that people should not disregard as a possibility.

Attorney-General Transcript Page 3 of 3

GILBERT: Yeah. Absolutely, fingers crossed on that. But as you say, given the enormity of the warnings yesterday, it’s a dodging of a bullet isn’t it, in some respects?

McCLELLAND: It’s really well done in terms of planning. Really well done in terms of community response. But, having said that, I think there is an element of dodging a bullet in some areas and that’s not a bad description.

GILBERT: Okay. Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, I know you’ve got a very busy day ahead. Appreciate your time. Thanks.

McCLELLAND: My pleasure. Thanks.


Contact: Ryan Liddell - 02 6277 7300 or 0427 225 763.