Garden Party in Support of Those Who Assisted Communities During and in the Aftermath of Cyclone Debbie
Acting Premier; Commissioners and other senior members of our public service; community sector leaders; distinguished members of our service and volunteer organisations; ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure and honour for me to welcome you to Government House today, and in doing so I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of these lands, with the expression of my respect for their Elders.
As their self-evidently proud Patron, I at once also congratulate the members of the Queensland Youth Orchestra Big Band for their wonderfully enriching performance and fanfare this afternoon.
We are here together today, ladies and gentlemen, to rekindle some very unpleasant memories, and yet others, most uplifting.
For Queenslanders, Cyclone Debbie was the worst kind of visitor – unwelcome, dangerous, destructive, and reluctant to leave.
We were all relieved when the vast weather system left our shores, only to see it then cause flooding in New Zealand.
Debbie’s shrieking winds, torrential rain, and ensuing floods caused a swathe of damage and disruption to communities in a huge arc from the Whitsundays to Northern New South Wales.
In Mackay, Rockhampton and Logan City, I witnessed at first hand some of the hundreds, if not thousands of individual stories of fear and heartbreak, of stoicism and resilience that followed in Debbie’s wake.
I was able to reassure those affected by Debbie that they were in the thoughts of Queenslanders everywhere.
The storm caused tragic casualties in both our State and New South Wales. Every person lost was deeply mourned. But, given the enormous scale of the destruction and inundation, they were mercifully few.
The huge and effective effort in preparedness, rescue and recovery was the work of a small army of committed professionals and volunteers.
The pre-positioning of emergency staff, and the weather warnings disseminated to communities, contributed to high levels of preparedness.
The hard, exhausting and sometimes dangerous work of rescue and recovery was carried out by police, emergency services, the army, all levels of government including local councils, energy companies, and the wonderful community organisations and volunteers that offered both solace and practical help to those whose lives cyclone Debbie had upended.
Those organisations are well represented here today by fine Queenslanders.
I offer you all my personal thanks for your marvellous, unstinting efforts in late March and early April this year, before, during and after Cyclone Debbie struck.
Words like ‘gratitude’ seem inadequate in the face of the scale and scope of your achievements.
But the genuine, heartfelt sentiments that lie behind these words of thanks come closer to doing justice to those achievements.
I speak for the people of Queensland in asking you to accept and pass on this message to the many colleagues you represent here today: a deeply grateful State thanks and honours you all.