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Queensland home to extreme challenges and great contrasts

Weekly column from Council Courier e-newsletter by CEO Greg Hallam, Friday 31, March 2017.

Image and link: Brisbane Times, Felicity Caldwell 28 March 2017

That Queensland is a very different place from the rest of the nation was something rammed home time and again this week.

I have spent much of the week at the State Disaster Coordination Centre at Kedron helping manage the response to the havoc wrought by Tropical Cyclone Debbie. There wasn’t much time to reflect too much on what that response said about the nature of the state, but when it starts to 'snow' in Sarina (sea foam whipped up by the cyclone falling in the centre of town) it does give you pause about the remarkable things that keep happening here.

People say Queenslanders are weird but more likely it’s Queensland itself that is weird.  It’s a place that seems to relish extreme challenges, great contrasts and endless opportunities for the brave and resolute. How many more disasters can beset us and how often do we have the capacity to rise up to meet them? Well, if this week’s effort is anything to go by, bring it on!

Councils and mayors have been magnificent throughout this disaster and that is not gilding the lily. A special mention goes to Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox who won praise from all and sundry for his energy, good grace and humour in the face of the battering that Debbie was dealing out to his region. Our civic leaders do it again and again, disaster after disaster, decade after decade.

But back to Queensland and her unique ability to shock and amaze. Cyclones? They are all big and bad these days. Even Category 1 Oswald in 2013 packed enough punch to put half of Bundaberg under water and caused most of its damage after it ceased being a cyclone. Droughts? A record 87 percent of the state was officially in drought before Debbie slammed into the Whitsunday coast this week. Climate change? It’s real alright. Does anyone in Queensland still believe otherwise?

Today, I am with the Deputy Premier, Jackie Trad, State Recovery Coordinator Brigadier Chris Field and department chief Frankie Carroll assessing damage and the reconstruction effort that will be needed. Here we go again!

It’s stating the bleeding obvious to say that natural disasters - planning for them, managing them and recovering from them - are all mainstays of local government these days, not an occasional duty. In Queensland, it’s become mainstream.

It's 'snowing' in north Queensland as Cyclone Debbie smashes the coast, Brisbane Times 28 March 2017


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