Grantham's Marnell Fuels owner Marty Warburton stands in front of his business that was devasted in the 2011 floods.
Grantham's Marnell Fuels owner Marty Warburton stands in front of his business that was devasted in the 2011 floods. Claudia Baxter

Resident warned not to approach Gillard on 2011 flood tour

A GRANTHAM flood victim has told an inquiry into the 2011 disaster that police warned him he would be arrested if he approached the prime minister when she visited the devastated Lockyer Valley town.

A local petrol station owner, Marty Warburton, returned to the hearings to give evidence on Friday.

He said following the catastrophic day that saw 12 people die, the community had asked him to run the flood fund and he became "a bit of a spokesperson or go-to person".

At first reluctant to take on the mantle, Mr Warburton said he realised many people had suffered more than him through the loss of their homes and family members.

MORE: Choppers sat idle while wall of water hit Grantham

But Mr Warburton said he was given a warning from a local sergeant before Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Premier Anna Bligh visited the community in the aftermath of the flood.

He told the inquiry the police officer warned him if he "made a scene" or approached the dignitaries, he would be locked up and charged with inciting fear and anger in the community.

Mr Warburton said he had never had a problem with the sergeant and, from the officer's body language, it appeared to be a directive the sergeant was ordered to pass on.

At the time the community were concerned about looting and felt authorities were speaking to them as though they were "imbeciles", Mr Warburton said.

Mr Warburton said at a later event Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson asked him about the encounter with the sergeant and asked if he wanted to take it further.

He told the commissioner he had no issues with the sergeant.

On Friday, Mr Warburton said he and others in the community were grateful the inquiry was allowing the truth to come out about what had occurred during and after the flood.

"For the last three years there's been several of us fighting to get the truth out and get some answers and it's solely for the purpose of, yes, to vindicate what we're saying, but to learn from that to make things better, to improve things," Mr Warburton said.

"So that when (flooding) does happen again we're a little bit better prepared for it, we're a little bit smarter for it."

No hearings are expected next week.

APN NEWSDESK



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