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

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie -- transcript of interview Seven Sunrise, 28 March 2017

    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie -- transcript of interview Seven Sunrise, 28 March 2017

    REPORTER:

    Let’s go now to the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who joins us now from Emergency Management Headquarters in Brisbane. Premier, good morning to you. Now we are hearing that Police and Emergency Services are not heading out to the Whitsundays yet because it is too dangerous to go. Do you know what the situation is there out of the Whitsundays for tourists and locals?

    PREMIER:

    Good morning Sam. And yes, of course it is absolutely too dangerous for Police and Emergency Services personnel to go out to the Whitsundays. The Whitsunday Islands are now in lock-down, as is Bowen and Airlie Beach. So at the moment I need people to stay in place. My key message to people today is stay where you are, do not move. This is going to be a very, very long day. We don’t expect the eye of the cyclone to be hitting landfall until around 12 – 1. This is going to extend into the afternoon and to the early hours of this evening. The worst thing that people can do is be lulled into a false sense of security when the eye passes over and think ‘I can see a blue sky now, it’s over I can go out and get on with my business’. Everyone must remain in place. This is for people’s safety, this is the advice of the experts, they’re telling me this and I need all families in this area to listen to the expert advice.

    REPORTER:

    So what are you major concerns here Premier, that people will leave their homes at this point?

    PREMIER:

    Well what we’re really concerned about is already people are thinking that the cyclone is going to hit them in the next half an hour or so. This is going to be a very long day. The destructive winds are going to get up to 260 kilometres an hour, it is a destructive Category Four. The best place for people to be is in their homes and emergency personnel cannot respond until after the storm has passed. We cannot put people’s lives at risk going to SES callouts when it is unsafe to do so. So please everyone, it’s gonna be a really, really long day. Stay in a place, stay close to your family, make sure you have the supplies there next to you. The winds are going to increase in intensity and it’s going to be really tough today but everyone is with you and everyone is thinking about you.

    REPORTER:

    It looks like Debbie is going to be everything we expected and possibly more. What have you instructed or what has your emergency management teams told you that they are doing to prepare here?

    PREMIER:

    We know that it is going to be very destructive. It is intensifying. What we’ve have to do yesterday is we’ve had to move 25,000 people out of the beach areas and the low lying areas around Mackay. We did this on advice from the experts to do with the tidal surges. This is going to have a huge impact along the Queensland coastline. Already we have powerlines down but we have deployed to these areas over 2,000 Emergency Services personnel that are there ready for once the storm passes to move in quickly and try to restore power as quickly as possible. But today is going to be really tough so please everyone, stay safe.

    REPORTER:

    And I’m talking to you from Townsville where there is an Army base of course, Premier. Have you got the Army on standby?

    PREMIER:

    Yes I do, I might just update you on that. We had a Queensland Disaster Management Committee meeting twice yesterday. I’ll be convening another one today and the Australian Defence Force actually sits in on those meetings. They are ready to go, they have forces ready in place, they have all the necessary supplies that they need. This is the most prepared the Queensland has been for a cyclone. We’ve learnt lessons from the past, from Yasi and Cyclone Marcia, but to have the Australian Defence Force team at all of those meetings, I’m very confident that they are ready to move in when they need to.

    REPORTER:

    I know we need to get through today first, Premier, and see how this plays out exactly but do you pre-emptively put the insurance companies on alert for what might come today?

    PREMIER:

    Well of course, we’ll have to deal with that later. Of course there are always issues around insurance. Insurance rates in these cyclone impacted areas are always a lot higher than other parts of Australia. This is an issue that the Treasurer has been talking to insurance companies about at length. We know it’s a big problem but look today my main concern is to ensure the safety of families in this direct hit zone of Cyclone Debbie.

    REPORTER:

    Premier we’re just seeing on our screen there waves of eight metres set to hit Mackay? That is massive, this could be a disaster of the worst magnitude here today.

    PREMIER:

    We have been expecting waves of around eight metres but what we’re really concerned about is that tidal surge, when that tidal surge happens around that Mackay region. But we’re also going to see tidal surges right up and down the coast. So, a clear message to families- stay safe today, do not go outside, do not put your lives or your families lives at risk.

    REPORTER:

    Ok, and we need to repeat that. If you have not left your home already in these areas around Bowen, Mackay, Airlie Beach, it is now too late to leave, you need to stay inside and batten down the hatches as they say. Ok Premier, thank you so much for your time today, we will check in with you later on and all the best with running this emergency that is likely to unfold here on the far north Queensland coast.

    [ENDS]