PM touched by victims' stories
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard paid tribute to the determination and fighting spirit of Ipswich residents after visiting two evacuation centres in the city yesterday.
The Ipswich Showgrounds evacuation site quickly became as busy as it was on Tuesday night when Ms Gillard arrived to meet evacuees there shortly after 11am.
With Ipswich politicians in tow, she spent more than half an hour walking around the centre, talking to a large number of residents and listening to their stories.
She told the national media throng that followed her every move that she was very touched by the stories she heard from Ipswich residents.
“When I say it’s an absolute privilege to be here, I really mean it,” Ms Gillard said.
“Floodwaters can wash things away but what they can’t possibly take away is the spirit of Australia and Queensland that’s just on display here.
“I’ve met people who are smiling and pulling together in the most difficult of circumstances.
“The overwhelming impression from going around is that people are there, they’re together, they’re very grateful for what the volunteers are doing and they’re going to pull through this.”
She said some of the stories she heard had both warmed her heart and broke her heart.
One example was a woman who had travelled from the Bundaberg after being caught in floods there, only to come to Ipswich and encounter even more flooding.
“Everyone you see is basically saying someone else is worse off than me,” Ms Gillard said.
West Ipswich resident Gary Malcolm, who was at the showgrounds with his four children all aged under five, spoke to Ms Gillard as she went around.
“I think it’s very good to see the Prime Minister come to Ipswich and see the flood damage for herself,” Mr Malcolm said.
“People are happy to see her here. I really hope the government gives the region enough money to rebuild.”
Other residents she spoke to held up pictures of their flooded houses that friends and family were able to take for them.
Kids at the temporary children’s corner gave the PM pictures they painted inside the centre while another resident gave her a letter.
Ms Gillard said the rebuilding effort would take “a lot of dollars” but her government was committed to repairing Ipswich and other flood affected cities.
“We will bring the budget back to surplus in 2012/13 but we are going to meet the needs of Queensland as well,” she said.
“We are going to organise the Federal budget so we are meeting the needs of Queensland in extensive rebuilding.”
After the showgrounds, Ms Gillard went to the Ipswich Region Community Church at Ripley to visit people evacuated there.
From there she paid a visit to the CBD area before heading back to Brisbane.