Radio Interview with Terri Begley, ABC Southern Queensland

07 Sep 2019
Prime Minister

TERRI BEGLEY, ABC SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND PRESENTER: Prime Minister, thanks for talking to me this afternoon, no doubt you’ve been keeping close tabs on not only the fires here in Queensland but New South Wales as well. How have you been feeling as you’ve seen some of the vision of these blazes, as its unfolded here in Queensland and New South Wales?

PRIME MINISTER: Well It’s earmarked by two things Terri, and it’s obviously the terrible impact that it’s having on local communities, that’s very devastating, but as always and I’m sure in the calls that you’ve been getting today and the coverage that you’ve been providing, you’re always inspired by the way people respond in these circumstances and how the community comes together, I’ve been talking to Scotty Buchholz out there, Member for Wright, and was talking to David Littleproud earlier  today and Barnaby Joyce, and they’re all working together - State Governments. But can I commend the ABC Terri, for the great job you’re doing here like you always do no matter where in the country it is, whether it was down in Tasmania during the fires we had in the Huon earlier in the year, or right up there in Gladstone last year, here you are again today keeping people informed and I think that’s a really important service and I commend you and all the volunteers who are out there manning the evacuation centres and out there fighting the fires themselves.

TERRI BEGLEY: Well we’re here just doing our job, it’s the people I think it really is as you say, those volunteers and the fire crews that have been doing really long shifts, it is dangerous country, it is tough weather conditions and they come back for a sandwich and a cup of tea and sort of shake it off and then head back out again and we know the volunteers, there have been many people getting in touch with the ABC, saying ‘what can we provide?’ Can we provide food? Can we provide water? Can- does anyone need blankets? Bedding? Can we take animals? You know, pets that are freaked out about what’s been happening. As you look at these developing situations in New South Wales and Queensland what sort of assistance have, are you already thinking about in the back of your mind for particularly those- we know that more than a dozen homes have been lost now here in Queensland, what could you offer them?

PRIME MINISTER:  Well the information I have is this, 17 homes have now been confirmed lost in Queensland, and that includes Binna Burra and Stanthorpe and just talking to Scotty Buchholz before, you know it’s going to be you know a hard journey back for those families who haven’t yet got back to their properties, and so it’s about what you can do today obviously, supporting the effort to put the fires out and to deal with the immediate challenges, but you know these communities are going to need support over time, the Queensland Government I have no doubt will be raising the formal request for assistance that comes through in these circumstances, and that will be immediately met. And so we're working closely with them on that. But in all of these meetings that have been held with the local firefighters and local councils, our members whether it be Scotty or David or Barnaby or- are there asking what further is needed? And they have what they need, and that's what they're advising us. But second they need more. Well we've got a great national network of assets that could be brought to bear in these circumstances and we've got great leaders, professionals who are on the ground and know how to fight these fires and they're doing a great job.

TERRI BEGLEY: Prime Minister it is only the seventh day of spring and we're facing something like this, it was described as catastrophic fire conditions on Friday which is what Queensland and New South Wales have had to prepare for in the last couple of days. Do you worry about the fire danger for the rest of, not only spring but right through to summer, if it's- if it's like this at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I wouldn't be extrapolating from the conditions over the last few days, it's been quite extraordinary and that's certainly the advice I'm getting. I mean the winds are quite extraordinary they're going to take embers a long way. I'm pleased that those winds have slowed down, I mean there's even- even down where I am down in Sydney last night. I mean the winds were quite ferocious. So it's a bit of some extraordinary conditions that have been in place for, for the last sort of 48 hours. And so I think we have to sort of take that in context. But I mean we've aways got to be ready. We've always got to be prepared and that's why you know for some time now we've been building up the resources and the assets and the capabilities and the way that states and territories work together to ensure those assets can be brought to bear where they need to be. I mean I was inspired by what I saw down in Tasmania over the summer I was inspired by what I saw, what I saw up in Queensland. I was inspired by all of those efforts but it's been the way they've worked together and got things to where they need to get to fast that’s been most impressive.

TERRI BEGLEY: And finally Prime Minister your message you'd like to leave with our listeners this evening. This- as they look ahead particularly around the Scenic Rim around Applethorpe, Stanthorpe this afternoon, and the Gold Coast hinterland. What, what's your message to them tonight as they face another tough night?

PRIME MINISTER: Well to hold on to each other, and to hold on to each other with your families communities that, you'll get all the support that is needed to ensure that we deal with the fires but also in the recovery that takes place afterwards. That is, that has always been our first responsibility after the fires.

TERRI BEGLEY: Okay. I will-

PRIME MINISTER: Particularly there at Binna Burra and Stanthorpe. I mean there's gonna be some challenges there and we'll be there to work with the State Government to get it done. So just to offer words of encouragement support and the reliance people always put on each other in these circumstances always proves to be well, well-placed.

TERRI BEGLEY: We thank you for your time this afternoon. Now we'll get back to delivering that crucial information for people throughout this evening. Prime Minister thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you Terri and well done to the ABC again.