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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk
    Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services
    The Honourable Mark Ryan

    Tropical Cyclone Debbie and associated flooding review released


    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services
    The Honourable Mark Ryan

    Wednesday, October 18, 2017

    Tropical Cyclone Debbie and associated flooding review released

    An independent review has commended the response to Tropical Cyclone Debbie and associated flooding and made recommendations to strengthen future responses for implementation ahead of the upcoming wet season.

    Addressing the Local Government Association of Queensland conference in Gladstone last night, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the response from local councils, State Government agencies, departments and corporation, the Australian Defence Force and members of the community had been comprehensive.

    The Premier said the report by the Inspector-General Emergency Management Iain Mackenzie concluded:

    “The clear takeaway from this work is that the disaster management system in Queensland is well constructed, experienced and practiced. Communities can have confidence that, at all levels, Government and all supporting entities are focused on delivering value and have the community as the centre of thinking.”

    The report also includes the statement that “TC Debbie was probably the best planned disaster we have ever had.”                              

    As the Inspector-General report noted the response was to three concurrent events

    • the impact of the cyclone and flooding in North Queensland;
    • rapid on-set flooding in south-east Queensland; and
    • slow on-set flooding in Rockhampton.

    “In March this year, Tropical Cyclone Debbie crossed Queensland’s border with ferocity – prolonged damaging winds, intense heavy rain and flash flooding. The damage was widespread and the response was comprehensive,” she said.

    “Damage to infrastructure and industry in Queensland following Debbie was in excess of $1 billion.  The impact of the State’s economic growth was estimated to be $2 billion,” the Premier said.

    “Damage to agricultural crops was estimated at almost $1 billion and loss of coal exports were projected to exceed $1.5 billion. Queensland’s tourism industry was also severely impacted. Airports and sea ports were closed, rail lines were cut and numerous major and local road networks sustained significant damage.”

    “More than 30 local government authorities were activated for Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, and at one stage, 40 local councils were represented on the State Disaster Management Committee meeting.”

    “I want to thank all Queenslanders involved in the response. It was inspiring and it reinforced the importance of having a strong frontline across Queensland.”

    The Office of the Inspector General worked with disaster management agencies including Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Queensland Police Service, local and district disaster management groups, councils and the Local Government Association of Queensland throughout the review. There was a telephone survey of 1200 residents in the focus areas.

    Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan said the review had arrived at 18 recommendations incorporating themes such as the need to provide timely and contextualised information, consistent and understandable public messaging and the continued need for addressing information sharing in disasters and how systems worked together.

    The review also highlighted:

    • the need for improved business continuity planning and work to improve the tourism experience during such events;
    • the benefits of coordinated exercising across all levels of the disaster management system that focus on information flow and integration of roles and responsibilities; and
    • a requirement for better fatigue management arrangements during sustained events such as Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

    Mr Ryan said the review had also identified a significant number of good practice actions and activities including the enhanced functioning of the State Disaster Coordination Centre at Kedron, and the work of Queensland Health and the Department of Child Safety, Communities and Disability Services in mobilising significant numbers of staff to ensure health and community recovery services were delivered successfully.

    “Councils within the review focus areas were also commended for a raft of good practice actions including a probabilistic modelling initiative in Townsville to inform potential storm surge impact; a lessons management program in Isaac; preparedness activities in Mackay and Whitsunday; and relief and recovery work in Scenic Rim, Logan and the Gold Coast,” he said.

    “When I tasked the Inspector-General to undertake this review in April, I was seeking assurance for the people of Queensland that there was a robust approach to continuous improvement across all aspects of Queensland’s disaster management system,” Mr Ryan said.

    “As part of that continuous improvement, I also wanted to ensure that the lessons learnt with each season and each disaster event are retained and acted upon.

    “I am greatly encouraged by the findings and recommendations in the Inspector-General’s review and believe the disaster management system is continuing to evolve and improve and will remain at the forefront of disaster management in Australia.

    Mr Ryan said he wanted the findings and recommendations to be considered by agencies before the 2017/18 severe weather season.

    The Inspector-General Emergency Management Iain MacKenzie said he had been encouraged by the genuine commitment of agencies in Queensland to proactively seek continuous improvement.

    “My Office has undertaken numerous reviews over the past three years and made quite a number of recommendations to ensure Queensland maintains world-class disaster management arrangements,” Mr MacKenzie said.

    “It has therefore been very pleasing through this review to see how agencies across the system have embraced these recommendations and effected change.

    “I am heartened by the extent to which many of these agencies have gone even further and proactively implemented initiatives above and beyond the recommendations of my Office.

    “I have every confidence that through a spirit of trust and empowerment, disaster management arrangements in Queensland will continue to develop to better meet the needs of Queenslanders.”

    Both the review and the results of the community survey can be viewed on the Office of the Inspector-General Emergency Management website at  

    Media contact:

    Kirby Anderson (Premier's office) 0417 263 791

    Emma McBryde (Minister Ryan's office) 0447 155 332