Communications issues during disaster to be addressed

Queensland premier Campbell Newman was in Gladstone to discuss to recent floods in the Gladstone Region. Photo David Sparkes / The Observer
Queensland premier Campbell Newman was in Gladstone to discuss to recent floods in the Gladstone Region. Photo David Sparkes / The Observer David Sparkes

QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman says there are lessons to be learned from the state's recent flooding.

Mr Newman landed in Gladstone on Tuesday morning to meet with councillors in the aftermath of floods in the region's south and west areas.

Mr Newman said his strategy for leading Queensland's recovery would involve ensuring that local authorities, mainly councils, would have the scope to drive the recovery.

He said councils knew best the problems facing their own areas.

In an exclusive interview with The Gladstone Observer, Mr Newman said there were lessons to be learned from the floods.

One of his biggest concerns about the most critical days during flooding was the breakdown of communications systems.

He said alternative means of communication needed to be established before disasters struck, so that when mobile phones went down, a back-up plan was in place.

"This area saw a number of communities being cut off, not just by road, but by phone as well.," he said.

"When I was in Brisbane as the Mayor, we actually had alternative communications as the council.

"We had (mobile phones) but we also had a network where all the key appointments had a little radio on our belts. So we all had our own independent communications."

Asked if Telstra deserved criticism for its performance during the crisis, Mr said that criticism would be "unfair" given the circumstances.

Mr Newman said the government would prioritise ensuring "red tape" didn't slow down the recovery process.

Colonel Cousins takes care of recovery

A RETIRED army colonel will oversee the Gladstone region's flood recovery.

Colonel Don Cousins will be responsible for co-ordinating reconstruction in the state's north.

Colonel Cousins travelled to Gladstone with Campbell Newman on Tuesday.

He comes with an impressive CV, having been responsible for logistics during Australia's operations in East Timor.

Mr Newman said Colonel Cousins would bring that logistics experience to the new role.

The Premier repeated his pledge to rebuild the state's infrastructure to be more "immune" from flood damage so the same problems were not constantly encountered.

"It is truly insane to keep doing things the same way when they are not working," he said.

Topics:  campbell newman flooding gladstone gladstone regional council oswald

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