The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

2 February 2012

Interview with Dave and Inky

Zinc FM, Cairns

2 February 2012

SUBJECTS: Anniversary of Tropical Cyclone Yasi; Reconstruction

DAVE:

Good morning Swanny.

TREASURER:

Good morning, how you going?

DAVE:

Not too bad. Now you're here to commemorate Yasi. You were on the ground, I think around about lunchtime, the day it hit with Premier Anna Bligh. Can you remember Swanny, the feelings and emotions you experienced when you got to Tully and the Cardwell areas and what you saw?

TREASURER:

Well, I certainly can. I flew in with Anna. We were in a Black Hawk helicopter which flew out of Townsville and I've never seen anything like it in my life. As we came towards Tully we saw all of the rainforest which was stripped. It really looked like there had been some bomb that had gone off and of course when we went into Cardwell that was really an eye opener. It had been really devastated and of course later in the day we went into Tully which looked like a bomb had gone off there as well. So I've never seen the sort of damage that I observed, particularly from the air, of that nature. I've just never seen anything like it before. It was like something out of Apocalypse Now.

DAVE:

If we rewind just before, like the day or the couple of days before, do you remember the emotions that you felt when you actually saw the size of Yasi on satellite images because I know how I felt. It was quite terrifying.

TREASURER:

Too right. I mean you just felt sick in the stomach, didn't you? Just really deeply unsettling and I think that was the case for Australians wherever they lived right across the country. I think everyone was thinking of Far North Queensland during those hours before it hit and I think people are still thinking about it. I mean, Australians have pulled together pretty well in the face of some fairly extraordinary natural disasters in recent years. We're coming up to the anniversary of the bushfires in Victoria in a couple of days.

DAVE:

'Summer of disasters' I think was the title it was given. How would you now, driving through that region this morning, you're in Tully now, how would you rate the rebuilding progress on the Cassowary Coast?

TREASURER:

Well, I've seen all the reports on paper and as I drove down certainly the land has begun to regenerate but I want to talk to locals about how they're seeing it. Just driving down the main road doesn't necessarily tell you what you need to know. I've been working with the reconstruction authority. I had a comprehensive briefing from them only a few weeks ago and they've come a long way but there's still a long way to go.

There's a lot of damage, a lot of infrastructure that's got to be repaired. There's a lot of it being repaired right now. There are still contracts out. And of course people whose farms have been hit and all their bananas knocked over and so on, there's a long time to recover from that but I think all of the assistance has been flowing through, but most importantly when I'm here today I want to talk to locals about how they're seeing it.

That's the important thing about being on the ground with Anna Bligh today, just to get a bit of an update, if you like. As you know I've been back to Cairns since the cyclone as well. I try to keep in touch with the region, I really like coming here.

DAVE:

Well, you are a Queenslander. We know you love the region.

TREASURER:

Too right.

DAVE:

Exactly, a Nambour boy.

INKY:

A little bit of good news that I saw this morning in an article saying that a lot of the residents who either lost their house or their house was damaged, a lot of them had got to move back into their house before Christmas but if there were residents that didn't have that there is going to be a move in time, they've already got a date to move in. So they are staying with their friends and families. Do you think that's a good turn around Swanny?

TREASURER:

Look I think the turnaround has been pretty good. I saw all of that data. They have it all at the reconstruction authority. They can tell you down to the house what is going to happen and when it is going to happen. All of that data is accumulated. They've made a lot of progress the last couple of months but certainly for some people there is still more progress required.

DAVE:

Okay. The other thing, let's talk about the consequences of ex-Tropical Cyclone Yasi. Obviously, you were just saying, the banana industry, the sugar industry got decimated. In fact there are some farmers that still haven't picked a banana in a whole year. The other one that is also a big concern to far northerners is the insurance industry and there's a lot of talk about this at the moment with some premiums going up 200 – 1000 per cent.

TREASURER:

All of that's a worry. We've got to make sure that all of the arrangements in the insurance industry are working. I know there's been some pretty steep premium increases come through and that's certainly a concern.

DAVE:

That definitely is for us. I mean, we're struggling like many other places around the country but that's one thing we're all keeping our eyes on. Very, very good to talk to you this morning Wayne Swan. Thank you for coming to the region. You have a good day down there in Tully today.

TREASURER:

Good to talk to you again. All the best.