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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:

    Thanks for your time, you’ve just left a briefing, what did you hear during that briefing?

    PREMIER:   

    Well the Bureau has advised us now that they’re expecting Cyclone Debbie to cross at midday today, so it keeps changing, of course we know cyclones are unpredictable so they’re doing their best modelling. I can also give you updated information that what we have seen just south of Proserpine is rainfall in excess of 210 millimetres that has fallen within the past hour. This is equivalent to a one in a 100 year event so the Bureau is modelling that information now but we are seeing unprecedented levels of rainfall in that area. Furthermore we have lost some communications with Proserpine at the moment, those winds are picking up so we still want people to remain safe and stay in their homes.

    REPORTER:

    Ok, look I have to admit when we arrived yesterday, Debbie was being upgraded and downgraded and I thought she might be a little bit of a non-event at one point, this is actually sounding Premier like it could be worse than we first thought?

    PREMIER:   

    Look this is going to be a serious cyclone and the Bureau cannot rule out that it could even intensify to a Category Five. At the moment we are expecting a Category 4, the winds are picking up as we are hearing, everyone’s getting feeds in from Hamilton Island from people out in the Whitsundays. I just listened to the Mayor of the Whitsunday Andrew Willcox speaking extensively about how those winds are picking up in Bowen and as I said previously Bowen, Airlie Beach and those islands are in lockdown but it is going to be a long day. We are still some four hours away from the crossing of the cyclone across the Queensland coast, it is going to continue all day into the evening. This is going to be a very frightening day for a lot of families in regional Queensland.

    REPORTER:

    Yes, now the SES is not responding to any more callouts, the word is now if you have not evacuated it is too late, you have got to stay inside your house. Is there any more emergency management procedures that could be put in place or is this it now and we just ride it out to the end?

    PREMIER:   

    Yes, everyone has got to be in lockdown, people are not to go out on the streets, once that eye passes over if they see blue skies do not go outside, don’t be lulled into that false sense of security, and stay inside. I can’t risk emergency services personnel lives going out into these cyclonic conditions, so we need people now to remain safe, to remain indoors, that’s the best place for people to be. But to have mattresses, pillows around them in case they start seeing parts of their house fall away from around them.

    REPORTER:

    I know tropical cyclones are a fact of life up here in the tropical north, but how do you feel Premier when you see your State get belted like this?

    PREMIER:   

    Oh how do I feel, I mean I think I’ve had as many sleepless nights as everyone else? Of course I’m concerned, I love this State just as much as everyone else does and the most important part about Queensland is the people. We are a resilient bunch and people say ‘do Queenslanders get used to cyclones’? You never get used to cyclones. These are unpredictable forces of nature. They have devastating impacts on communities and it can take years to rebuild these communities. We saw that through Cyclone Marcia, we saw that through Cyclone Yasi. Cyclone Debbie is now unleashing her fury it’s only gonna get worse over the next eight hours so our thoughts and prayers are with everybody in the direct line of sight for this cyclone. It’s also moving a little bit from left to right, we’re continuing to look at that modelling. We are a little bit concerned now about increase of tidal surges in Bowen if that cyclone does track further north of Bowen. At the moment it’s tracking south of Bowen but the cyclone is unpredictable and all I can do is listen to the advice of the experts. And what I say to the people of Queensland, the people who are in this direct zone- please listen to authorities, we will keep you updated. But what we will see over the course of the day is many people will lose communication. They’ll lose communication, they will be going through a very frightening time, they need to stay in their place. So my key message to everyone out there today- stay where you are, keep your friends, keep your family, keep your children close by, this is going to be a tough ride.

    REPORTER:

    Premier, we’re just looking at some live pictures of Bowen right now, winds about 100 kms an hour and only going to get stronger. The eye of this cyclone estimated to be 250 kms an hour, the winds that is. This looks absolutely terrifying, I mean, you’d have to be mad to go out in this anyway?

    PREMIER:

    Oh absolutely and we don’t want anyone to risk their lives. There will be some people that will think ‘I’m going to go out and see what it’s like’. It’s times like that that can put your life at risk because we will have powerlines coming down and as you said, if they’re 100 kilometre winds at the moment and they’re beginning to pick up in intensity, imagine what it’s going to be like at 250 kilometres an hour. The cyclone is four hours away, it is only going to intensify. The next four hours we are going to see a dramatic escalation and like I said, we are starting to lose contact with communities as we speak.

    REPORTER:

    Okay Premier, before we let you go I’ll just get you to summarise that briefing for us again. This is still a Category Four cyclone, very highly likely that it will intensify to a Category Five.

    PREMIER:

    It is a Category Four, we are not ruling out that it could go to a Category Five. At the moment it is stabilising as a Category Four severe weather system. It is due to cross the coast at midday, this could change but at this stage the cyclone is around four hours away. What we are seeing now is heavy rainfall, a one in 100 year rainfall being experienced just south of Proserpine. We’ve lost some communication with Proserpine. SES workers cannot go out in the field, we cannot put their lives at risk. My key message to families- stay safe, this is going to be a tough time, stay safe, have your radios on, keep in communication as you can. If you lose communication, we will be there straight after the event ready to assist you in any way that we can.

    REPORTER:

    Okay. Premier, we really appreciate your time this morning. We will let you go now and we’ll check in with you again throughout the morning. Thanks for that.

    PREMIER:

    Thank you, Sam.

    [ENDS]