PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 17595

Transcript of interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today

Photo of Gillard, Julia

Gillard, Julia

Period of Service: 24/06/2010 to 27/06/2013

More information about Gillard, Julia on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/01/2011

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 17595

STEFANOVIC: PM, good morning to you.

PM: Good morning Karl.

STEFANOVIC: Tough morning isn't it?

PM: It's a very tough morning here in Brisbane and right across Queensland.

The people of Ipswich and Brisbane bracing for more flood waters and of course we are out there on the search and rescue task and so many Australian unaccounted for, so many families that would really be going through hell as they wait for news.

STEFANOVIC: You're right about that, logistically this is very difficult too, from an Emergency Service perspective?

PM: Yes it is. We've had our magnificent Defence Force here throughout the flood crisis, working with Queensland and their Emergency Services personnel and as it's changed we've made more available. We're making more available today, we're bringing on task seven more helicopters, bringing to a total 15 in Queensland and they're going to be on what could be some heartbreaking work with search and rescue.

We're also making available more C-130s, they're those planes that can move food supplies around, to help those townships that are isolated and might be running short of something and we've got several hundred Defence Force personnel on a notice to move should that be necessary.

STEFANOVIC: I guess at some point they're going to need to, there may be a need to take over certain areas, that's an issue that might come up.

PM: Well at the moment I think people are behaving very sensibly and obviously my message to them is listen to what the Emergency Services personnel are telling you, they are literally trying to keep you safe and we know these flood waters can be deadly.

So please listen to the advice that you're given, make sure that your neighbours are OK, we're all going to get through this but we need to stick together.

STEFANOVIC: From a health point of view, how can people access that help? I know that there's a lot of people involved here and that it's across a very wide ranging area, but how can people get access to help and what are you going to do for people who are isolated at the moment, how can they possibly get help?

PM: Well in terms of Emergency Services personnel, obviously the Queensland authority is now Defence Force people are out there, doing the work that I've described. In terms of emergency payments and assistance people can ring a number, it's 180 22 66.

We are making dollars in pockets available, the first emergency payment for someone who's literally had to flee their home because its filling with flood waters and they're at an evacuation centre, already we've processed almost 10,000 claims, more than $17 million hitting the ground and that's just the emergency payment, there's going to be more when people return and they're recovering from the devastation in their homes, their businesses, on their farms.

STEFANOVIC: When something is as broad as this, what sort of plans do you put in place for a cleanup operation to happen, because this is going to be a massive cleanup?

PM: It's going to be a massive cleanup and that's why we made Mick Slater available, a very senior Defence Force Officer, to lead the recovery effort here in Queensland, working with Premier Bligh and her Government, but obviously bringing to bare all of that Defence Force expertise about logistics and how you mobilise over big areas to do recovery work.

STEFANOVIC: I noticed this morning that the Premier Anna Bligh has said that there are now in excess of 90 people missing, it's a worrying sign that that number is growing. What information can you give to people around the Brisbane area about what you're hearing about those numbers and what (inaudible)?

PM: Premier Bligh and I are working off the same information, I did tell the nation yesterday and it was a fairly grim duty, but I did tell the nation yesterday that we do need to be prepared for this death toll to rise.

These are dangerous waters, we've lost people, we've lost 10 Australians, including some children and I fear and I think people need to be prepared for that death toll rising.

STEFANOVIC: How do you deal with people on that level, who, and you've been out and you've seen people who have lost everything and have lost loved ones in all of this?

PM: I think the only thing you can do Karl is there's no magic words that take that kind of pain away, all you can do is be there one human being to another.

STEFANOVIC: Tough?

PM: It's tough, yeah but look it's not, I'm here obviously I'm working to lead the efforts that we need, the people who are doing it tough are the people who are leaving their homes, looking back over their shoulders and wondering what they're going to come back to and the people who are just standing by waiting for that call to know what's happened to, you know, mum, dad, or someone else in the family.

STEFANOVIC: This balance here between looking ahead and looking at place like Grantham where it hit the other day, it's a very difficult balance in fact in terms of reporting, what can you tell us about what we can expect in the next 24 hours, as the country's leader what are you expecting to transpire here?

PM: Well what I'm expecting is the search and rescue efforts are going to continue and you're right, those places in the Lockyer Valley that just had that wall of water smash into them, we are still searching there and that's what the additional helicopters will be doing.

At the same time Ipswich, Brisbane, people are preparing for these flood waters, there are evacuation centres, there is the access to the emergency payments and I just think from a human point of view we'd be saying to everybody keep calm, we're going to get through this but maybe go check on your neighbours, just make sure everybody is OK, maybe there's the old lady down the end of the street and you haven't seen her for a while, just go and check, make sure people are doing it OK.

STEFANOVIC: Good advice on any day of the week in fact, but particularly poignant now. Prime Minister thank you very much, we'll let you go I know you've got a busy day ahead too.

PM: Thanks for the opportunity Karl.

Transcript 17595