Skip links and keyboard navigation

    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie -- transcript of interview ABC 612 Craig Zonca program, 28 March 2017

    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie -- transcript of interview ABC 612 Craig Zonca program, 28 March 2017

    CRAIG ZONCA:

    At Emergency Management Queensland headquarters at Kedron right now, that is where Terri Begley is. Hello Terri.

    TERRI BEGLEY:

    Good morning Craig and with me is the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who has been given the most recent briefing on what is happening with Cyclone Debbie, what can you tell us Premier?

    PREMIER:

    Well the most recent up to date information is that we expect Cyclone Debbie to cross around lunchtime today – 12 noon. Thankfully the tidal surge in Mackay is not as high as first anticipated so we’re looking at around 1.9 metres at the moment but there still doing modelling on that. But it is going to be very destructive, it’s going to be a severe Category 4, there’s going to be wind gusts of 260 kilometres an hour and of course we’re all feeling for people who are bunkered down in their houses – waiting out this storm.

    TERRI BEGLEY:

    What are the communities that are being affected right now by those strong winds and heavy rain?

    PREMIER:

    Ok, well I think everyone’s hearing that people are feeling the very strong winds on our Whitsunday Islands, of course Hayman, Daydream, Hamilton Island, there now in complete lockdown. Bowen is in lockdown and so is Airlie Beach. We’ve had to the evacuation of 25,000 people around Mackay, those low lying areas, we did that as a precautionary measure but on the advice of the experts and as Premier of this State I have to listen to the experts when they present that advice to our Queensland Disaster Management Group and that is exactly what we did.

    TERRI BEGLEY:

    You’re not hearing any reports yet of severe damage or any injuries to people?

    PREMIER:

    Not at this stage, thank goodness, but we need people to stay in their homes, to stay safe, to stay close with their family and friends in the most secure part of their home. We’re getting those messages out and the media are getting those messages out to people as well. Some powerlines are down at the moment, people are starting to feel those full force of the winds but this is going to be a long event as well. Some people are thinking it’s going to be over by lunchtime, it’s not. It’s going to keep going into the afternoon until the early hours of this evening so we need people to stay in place.

    TERRI BEGLEY:

    Premier what about here in the South East of Queensland, if people have plans to head north, what’s your advice for people here?

    PREMIER:

    I think what I would say to people and of course the school holidays are coming up and people might be thinking about going and visiting family and friends up in the north regions of this State – what I might say to people at this stage is please just wait because we need to get our frontline personnel in there to assist. We have already got over 800 energy workers on standby that have been deployed to those regions, ready to go to restore the power, of course that’s going to be the number one issue for people but also too we’ve got our ambulance officers ready, our hospitals ready, in case there are any injuries, so my message to people in the South East is look please just don’t confirm those holiday plans yet, let’s just wait and see how this goes because we may also see some roads blocked as well, we may see some flash flooding, we’re monitoring the impacts of that, depending on the amount of water that the catchments are going to see from this cyclone event. So at this stage once again just wait, let’s get the advice and we will be getting information out to people as soon as possible.

    TERRI BEGLEY:

    In the meantime there’s not much we can feel as if we can help our relatives, our friends who are living in the northern part of the State, is there anything that we can do here in Brisbane today to help out?

    PREMIER:

    Oh well of course everyone is feeling the support for people in the north, in fact the one thing that strikes me about the South East of this State is that everyone knows someone who lives in the regions. It’s an incredible story about Queensland, a lot of people have moved from the regions over time to the South East or of course people have gone vice versa, so someone knows someone who’s living in the regions. Of course we will look at helping people recover, that will be the next stage following this devastating impact of this storm. Already we’ve seen people, organisations like GIVIT, you know that’s a good place to donate to, but also too we will see people like the Salvation Army and other organisations that will go in to assist and that’s what we did after Cyclone Marcia, we asked people to donate to a range of organisations rather than coming through a central appeal. I believe it’s best to get the money out the door and it’s through those organisations that can get the money straight out to people where it’s needed most.

    TERRI BEGLEY:

    Ok. You’ll be meeting again with the disaster co-ordination committee later this morning, when are we expecting another update, any more information today?

    PREMIER:

    Well I’ll be getting hourly updates now because of the severity of this weather system. But we do have a Queensland Disaster Management Group that meets, we met twice yesterday and I might just explain that for your listeners. So I Chair that meeting, we have the Police Commissioner there, the State Disaster Co-ordinator, we have representatives from the Australian Defence Force, Emergency Services personnel, Health, Ambulance, SES, everyone sitting around that room, my key Ministers, the heads of organisations. I have never seen this level of organisation before. Cyclone Marcia I thought we were good, this is better preparation, everyone has learnt lessons from Yasi and also from Cyclone Marcia. We’re ready, we’re got people out in the field, we’ve tackled issues like if people are going to run out of fuel we’ve got fuel already sent to the regions, we’ve also got freight trains that have arrived with extra food already. So we’re organised but of course my main priority is people’s lives, there’s nothing more important. I mean you can rebuild people’s homes, but once a person loses their life that has a devastating impact for families and honestly I don’t want to see any loss of life, I don’t think anyone does.

    TERRI BEGLEY:

    Certainly a waiting game for the next few hours, Premier Palaszczuk thank you for your time.

    PREMIER:

    Thanks Terri.

    CRAIG ZONCA:

    Annastacia Palaszczuk the Premier speaking with our reporter Terri Begley at Emergency Management Queensland headquarters. Lots of meetings happening there’re throughout the day. Eagerly watching the movement of Tropical Cyclone Debbie, Category 4 system, expected to make landfall around lunchtime.

    [END]