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

27 January 2013

Doorstop Interview

Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Queensland Floods and Storms, Federal Assistance

TREASURER:

Obviously the situation across most of Queensland remains extremely serious and in many parts of the state, it's only going to get worse. I'm going across to Emergency Services Queensland later this afternoon to get a full update on the situation. What I wanted to do today was give a full update of what the Commonwealth is doing to assist the Queensland Government, to assist people on the ground. We've already seen huge destruction up the coast including mini-tornadoes. We've already seen huge destruction up the Coast in places like Bargara, Burnett Heads, Bundaberg and some of the worst flooding that Gladstone has ever seen.

Today I've spoken with the Mayor of Gladstone, Gail Sellars, and Bundaberg Mayor, Mal Forman to offer Commonwealth support in any way that we can. I've also spoken to the Prime Minister and of course the Prime Minister has spoken to Premier Newman to offer federal assistance. The Commonwealth Disaster Plan has been activated, which means Defence assets and personnel are ready to be deployed if needed. The full assets of the Defence Forces are on standby if required and the Commonwealth does stand ready to assist local communities.

We've already got Defence force assets assisting, particularly at Baffle Creek to rescue people there who have been stranded by the flooding. Two Black Hawk helicopters are already on route from Townsville to Bundaberg as well. Today I can also announce additional assistance will be made available to disaster-affected communities under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. This assistance has been extended to the local government areas of Central Highlands, Mackay, Whitsunday, and Bundaberg, now totalling 29 [Local Government Areas in Queensland]. Over to you.

JOURNALIST:

Can you tell me more about, apparently a man has died near Bundaberg?

TREASURER:

I haven't got a briefing on that as yet. It's obviously very sad that someone has perished in the floods. But I'll wait for a full briefing on that.

JOURNALIST:

So far there's two helicopters and that's the only Defence assets that have been activated?

TREASURER:

The full resources of the Defence forces are on standby if the crisis requires it.

JOURNALIST:

What do you expect you'll discuss with the Premier about what possible action is needed?

TREASURER:

I'll get a full briefing from the officials at Kedron and I'll talk to the Premier about the assistance that has been provided and how we can cooperate to do the very best we can for the people of Queensland, particularly those who are currently in distress.

JOURNALIST:

If the situation deteriorates could there be more offers of support from the Commonwealth?

TREASURER:

The Commonwealth stands ready to provide whatever support we possibly can within the framework of the agreements that we have with the state government for disaster relief. I think we have demonstrated the capacity to work as governments together over a long period of time when we've seen challenges such as this. I think the speed of the deployment of Defence assets today shows that the Commonwealth is working very well with the state authorities on these matters.

JOURNALIST:

Just in terms of your briefing, how bad is it? Can you give us a line, what's your reaction?

TREASURER:

I think the Premier this afternoon gave a pretty accurate roll call of what is happening and where. So I'm going to go out there today and get a briefing as well. It is extremely serious for a significant number of communities in South East Queensland in particular, but it's unfolding as we speak and even here in Brisbane the conditions are pretty savage at the moment.