Wednesday, March 29, 2006The Australian House of Representatives today acknowledged the impact of the recent devastating Cyclone Larry and the efforts of the support given to the residents and communities of north Queensland in order to restore normal life.
Phillip Ruddock (Liberal, Berowra) moved a motion expressing this after Question Time today, which included a description of the devastation wrought on the area, the response by the Australian Government and the Australian Defence Force, and thanked the efforts of people for their “willingness to roll up their sleeves and get on with the job of cleaning up and rebuilding their towns and centres.”
The Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley (Labor, Brand) supported the motion, and congratulated the move to put General Peter Cosgrove in charge of operations, stating that soldiers “know how to work through logistics issues…how to work around officialdom or blockages”, praised both local federal and state members of Parliament, and especially the Labor Queensland state premier, Peter Beattie.
Bob Katter (Independent, Kennedy) was more critical in his speech. Katter thanked Beattie for his immediate response, but also described his confrontation with him and said how first responses were “simply not working”, but also praised Beattie’s decision on Cosgrove. Katter also described how the incident was “the worst natural disaster inAustralian history” and how the banana industry in north Queensland was decimated. Katter went on to describe the financial problems of the people in the region, the “huge gap” between the cost of rebuilding and insurance payouts, also asking “Are we going to pay people virtually nothing to sit on their backsides to do nothing or are we going to pay them a decent wage and have them rebuilding our communities for us?”
The debate is set to continue in the Main Committee, as an opportunity for many more members of the House of Representatives to speak to the motion, without taking up further time in the Chamber.