Put armed forces on standby for FNQ flooding disaster: Katter’s Australian Party

Dec 17, 2023

KATTER’S Australian Party MP for Kennedy Bob Katter is calling on the Federal Government to put the armed forces on standby in response to widespread flooding severely impacting Far North Queensland in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Jasper.  

Mr Katter said it had been reported to him that emergency services were operating near capacity with rescues and evacuations as the greater Cairns, Mareeba, Innisfail and Tablelands regions receiving hundreds of millimetres of rain over the weekend, with swollen rivers overflowing and fears of dam walls conceding.  

Major highways in the Far North including the Bruce Hwy, Captain Cook Hwy, Kennedy and Palmerston highways are blocked in multiple locations due to flooding, landslides and fallen vegetation.  

“I am urgently requesting that the Federal Emergency Management Minister places the Australian armed forces on standby to assist in the emerging critical flooding situation in Far North Queensland,” Mr Katter said.  

“I also request for the duration of the emergency and recovery effort, the Australian head for Emergency Services be located in Townsville.”  

Mr Katter said the State and Federal Governments needed to consider the lessons learned during the flooding of North West Queensland earlier this year, where it was evident there was a communication breakdown between government assistance offered and the actual damage and needs on-ground. 

“It is farcical to expect a person in Canberra that is thousands of kilometres away can manage an emergency.”  

Mr Katter said he would be inspecting parts of the Far North on Monday – likely to include the Tablelands and Cassowary Coast regions – weather permitting and would be updating the Federal Minister with early assessments.  

KAP Hill MP Shane Knuth said the severity of damage, particularly on roads which had been reported to him was almost unprecedented.  

“I’m seeing consecutive road closures and collapses throughout the Tablelands and Cassowwary Coast, particularly the Palmerston Hwy, which I think will now be completely out for weeks,” Mr Knuth said. 

“There is massive flooding in areas that are never normally inundated to the extreme of what we’re seeing, I really think the State Government now needs to step up and place as much importance as possible on our region in recovery.” 

KAP candidate for Cook Bruce Logan has been dealing with the brunt of the disaster at Malanda with extensive wind and water damage to his own property and said there was no doubt a swift on-the-ground response would be required from the State Government.  

“Firstly I think all our emergency services really need the extra resources and back up right now. I was in Atherton and I’m hearing they can’t keep up with phone calls,” Mr Logan said.  

“At this stage, I believe we still need that triage of authorities ensuring people are safe, it’s still an ongoing situation. 

“But I hope we do see the relevant authorities on the ground so they can understand and appreciate the extent and severity of this event. There’s a lot of people cut off, a lot of damage to be unveiled and what I can see already, a lot of leaking roofs.  

“The rebuild efforts are going to be enormous, in the middle of the wet season, and as we know we already have a severe housing shortage. So I think both the Federal and the State Government should be expected to step up there and provide any assistance needed. 

“Beyond housing, I think the region will need additional medical services and support, particularly with health hazards such as retracting sewerage systems which are being reported in the Cooktown region. 

“And we know our hospitals are already under pressure, no doubt there will be a number of staff personally affected, and we will need backup for them too. 

“As Mr Katter mentioned, perhaps these services could be supplied by of the armed forces.”