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Premier’s apology over storm that never was – but she’s glad to be proven wrong

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has apologised for the “inconvenience” caused by the controversial decision to close schools across the State’s south east and the mix up over collecting children from school.

Mar 04, 2022, updated Mar 04, 2022
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has pledged $1 billion to build more than 5600 social housing homes. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has pledged $1 billion to build more than 5600 social housing homes. (AAP Image/Darren England)

“Can I say to all the parents in the south east that I apologise for the inconvenience but I think everybody would realise if you were in my shoes and you were given the advice that was given to us yesterday, I think that everybody would have taken the same decision,” a contrite Palaszczuk said.

“I do acknowledge that there has been some inconvenience today from parents but safety has to come first. At the end of the day you can only act on the advice that you are given.”

Palaszczuk said the “severe weather briefing” she had received on Thursday, warning of severe thunderstorms, large hail and winds, had prompted her decision to advise parents from the north of Brisbane to Bundaberg to collect their children from school.

And it informed the decision to close schools in the south east on Friday. However the severity of the storms failed to eventuate with the sun out in many places.

Palaszczuk’s mea culpa came at a press conference on Friday morning where she said she was apologising for the mix-up over school pick ups on Thursday and the decision to close schools on Friday.

“Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication and I have apologised for that,” Palaszczuk said about a subsequent mix up in which a Tweet was issued from her account which suggested parents everywhere should be collecting their children from school on Thursday.

Confusion reigned as schools and parents were left questioning which schools were affected and who should collect children.

Palaszczuk said she had been clear in the Thursday press conference that she was referring to schools from the north Moreton Bay region to Bundaberg and not the whole south east.

“Of course we can always do better, I always acknowledge that,” Palaszczuk said.

“But people are only human but we have to take the advice of the experts and that is what we did but safety has to come first. The last thing I would want is for a young child to lose their life.”

Weather conditions are easing and Palaszczuk said the Mud Army can now begin the mammoth clean-up task at first light on Saturday, after that also was delayed.

A 10th person has also now died in the flooding after the body of a 53-year-old man was found in the water at the Port of Brisbane after being reported missing on Monday. The man is believed to have gone missing from a tinny.

Another man, believed to have fallen from a vessel in the Brisbane River during the flooding is still missing.

Police have now arrested seven people for looting related offences.

Police Chief Katarina Carroll also warned the maximum penalty for looting offences during a natural disaster is 10 years and this is actually double the normal sentence.

“It is considered a lot more serious because these people (the victims) are in a vulnerable situation because of the disaster,” Carroll said.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the weather conditions on Friday would return to a more normal storm situation late in the afternoon and evening but would not be as intense or widespread as previously.

As the massive clean up now begins, Palaszczuk said the damage bill will easily be in the billions of dollars.

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Palaszczuk has written to the Prime Minster, seeking $559 million of what is referred to as Category D assistance, on a 50/50 split with the Federal Government.

Communities are still cut off by floodwaters, more than 15,000 residents are without power and schools remain closed across Queensland’s southeast due to concerns about “unsettled weather”.

More than 17,000 homes and businesses in Brisbane, Gympie, Logan and Ipswich have been damaged after torrential rain triggered the region’s worst floods in a decade. Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Chelepy says most of the communities still cut off on Friday are west of Brisbane, in Ipswich, and to the north of the city, in Gympie.

“We’re doing resupply operations into a number of communities between Gympie, Logan, Ipswich, so we’re making sure those people cut off are still getting the food and supply they need,” he told ABC Radio.

“We’ve still got over 15,000 residents without power and the authorities are working very hard to bring all that power back on.”

A flood watch remains in force over Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, the Sunshine and Gold Coasts but the Bureau of Meteorology’s last update at 6pm on Thursday said an unpredictable trough had moved north of Bundaberg.

“Storms elsewhere have weakened for now,” the BoM said.

Despite the dry, overcast conditions on Friday, Mr Chelepy said there was a risk any further storms could cause flooding in already saturated catchments.

He said any heavy rain could spark flash floods which could cut roads and strand anyone cleaning up flooded homes or businesses or commuting to work.

“It’s great to wake up a little bit of sunshine this morning but we still do have very unsettled conditions tonight,” the deputy commissioner said.

 

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