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 with Sky News, 28 March 2017

    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie - transcript of interview with Sky News, 28 March 2017

    REPORTER:

    Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, she joins us now from the Emergency Headquarters in Brisbane, Premier thanks for your time, can you give us an update on the latest advice that you have in relation to Cyclone Debbie?

    PREMIER:

    Yes I can Kieran, I’ve just come from a meeting with the Police Commissioner and our State Disaster Coordinator, what we need people to do today is to stay safe and stay in their homes and where they are taking places of refuge. This is going to be a destructive category four, but also too, it is going to take a long period of time for those destructive winds to pass. We expect this severe weather event to go into the early hours of this evening. I also don’t want people to be lulled into a false sense of security when they do see some blue sky to go out and think that the worst is over. I need people and families to remain in place, already we’re seeing the wind gusts picking up, but we’re expecting that to increase to 260 kilometres an hour. There is a very destructive core as part of Cyclone Debbie and we are monitoring that on an hourly basis. I also expect to convene the Queensland Disaster Management Group meeting again today, we met twice yesterday, we had to take that unprecedented step yesterday afternoon of seeking to evacuate some 25,000 people. This was on advice from the Queensland Police Commissioner and the State Disaster Coordinator, this was the right step to do because we are very concerned about the expected tidal surge that was going to happen around the Mackay region. But I can report to you today, this morning, that Bowen, Airlie Beach are in complete lockdown, as are the Whitsunday Islands. The intensity and the ferocity of these winds is going to be gradually increasing before that crossing expected to be around lunchtime today. It is going to be a long tough day, but I know that everyone is bunkered down, they’re going to do the right thing and we also have emergency services personnel ready to respond once the extreme weather event is over.

    REPORTER:

    And obviously it’s not just about the wind, it’s the storm surge as well and the rain. Can you give us a sense of what time that storm surge is expected to hit those low lying areas particularly?

    PREMIER:

    My understanding is it was around 10 o’clock, we’re still getting modelling in relation to that. We are still expecting around Mackay for that to be around 1.9 metres, that is still significant, of course we’re going to be seeing another tidal surge around 12 hours from that as well, so everyone is monitoring, we’ve got experts doing the modelling to make sure that we are provided with the best possible advice to take the best possible actions that we need to do. But I also need to thank the public for listening to the emergency services personnel, listening to the police and heeding that advice. There has been an unprecedented public response, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Also my hat goes off to all of our emergency services personnel, once again I have never seen this level of organisation – we’ve had the Australian Defence Force sitting in on our meetings, we’ve had ambulance, we’ve had all of my ministers, all of the key agencies – these people right across our state do incredible work and my hat goes off to each and every one of them that put their lives at risk to make sure that Queenslanders are safe.

    REPORTER:

    And Queenslanders in that part of your state are very much aware of the risk, they’ve experienced it themselves in terms of Cyclone Yasi in 2011, is the… are the warnings though being heeded right across the board, is that what you’re hearing from the authorities in the region? Are people listening in terms of the necessary evacuations?

    PREMIER:

    Yes they are. On the whole the majority of people are. Of course we’ve had a few people in small isolated areas that have refused to leave, I’m not happy about that and nor are the police because by not listening to the police you are not heeding the experts advice. However, on the whole the majority of people are putting their family first and heeding the advice that has been given by the Queensland Police Service. So most people are doing the right thing, we’ve got our evacuation centres set up as well, some people have moved into those centres. But after every cyclone we learn the lessons from that and we seek to improve on everything that we’re doing, so all I can say from my point of view here, from where I stand, is that there has been an incredible amount of organisation that has gone in and preparation for the impact of this cyclone, I also want to give a big shout out to all of the regional mayors. I have never seen this level of cooperation as well from our mayors across all of the regions, I’ve also had them listen in to our State Disaster Management Committee meetings because I believe that they need to get the most up-to-date information. I’ve been keeping in regular contact with them, but not only that, their local disaster management committee meetings, they’ve been meeting on a regular basis and they’ve been working through the night. So a big thank you to everyone who has been involved in this, but, once again Kieran, can I please stress to all of the families that are actually going through this today, we are thinking of you but you must stay safe, makes sure you are in the most secure part of your home, have mattresses in there, have pillows, this is going to get tough and it is going to be rough. So we need people to stay sheltered in place, make sure you’ve got water with you, your medicine and make sure that you keep your kids close, and a lot of the children have never gone through this before and they’re going to be quite alarmed so we need parents to do everything they possibly can.

    REPORTER:

    Yes, a very scary time, our thoughts are with all of those affected. I just want to ask you one final question in relation to the defence force support, you said that they are taking part in the emergency meetings that you have been involved in, these briefings. We’re hearing that two of our most important largest naval vessels are out of action because of engineering problems, are they telling you that that’s going to hamper the defence support in the wake of Debbie once its hit?

    PREMIER:

    No, not at all. We’ve had three members of the Australian Defence Force, I’ve had a Lieutenant Colonel sitting in on the meetings updating me regularly. We have supplies already in Townsville, we have personnel ready to go, we have a freight ship about to dock in Brisbane ready to head up north. I have never seen this level of preparation. I also want to thank the Prime Minister, I spoke to him first thing yesterday morning, I spoke to him again late last night, the level of cooperation is unprecedented and I said to him I thank you very much for making the Australian Defence Force personnel available to help Queenslanders in their hour of need.

    REPORTER:

    Premier we wish you all the best over the next 24 hours, and your government as you respond to Cyclone Debbie and of course, as I say, our thoughts are with those affected in the region.

    PREMIER:

    Thank you Kieran.

    [ENDS]