KEVIN RUDD: I'm just here with William Hague, who's the Foreign Secretary
of the United Kingdom. And I said to William, in the last few days that
he's coming to Australia - and we had official talks in Sydney yesterday -
to come up and have a look at what's happened to this local community.
I think, as you all know, this has been covered around the world, this
flood, these Queensland floods. And the offers of help and support and
solidarity and sympathy from around the world have been frankly
What you, as a local community have experienced with volunteers coming in
and just cleaning places up, discovering neighbours you never knew you had
before and friends that you never had before but now have, that's been our
experience internationally. That is around the world we've had so many
people roll in the door and simply put their hand up and say how we can
help? And the British Government has been one of those as well.
Some of you would have seen that the Queen has made a private donation to
the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal, and through William we've publicly
acknowledged how touched, I think, people in Brisbane and people in
Queensland are by such a donation. That's enough of the formalities.
The real purpose of today, however - before I flip to William to say a few
things - is for each and every one of you who's been volunteering in this
community, I have one thing to say this morning and that is simply thank
Those of you who have helped out neighbours, those of you who have helped
out friends, those of you who have helped out people you've never met in
your lives before, you've made it all work. And the purpose of this
morning's barbecue is just to bring back a bit of normality, a bit of
civility in terms of sitting down and having a bite to eat with one
another, but also just to acknowledge what people have done and to say
So what you see, William, on the banks of the Brisbane River this morning,
is the spirit of Queensland alive and well, the spirit of Brisbane alive
and well, the mud still on the ground, but we're pretty optimistic about
Anna, the Premier, has just been here a minute ago. As you know, this is
her community. I see Helen Abrahams here as the local councillor, and there
may be other representatives too.
This has been a great effort at all levels of government and I thank all
those for their contribution to making sure we can get life back to normal
as quickly as possible.
So the purpose of my remarks is simply to say thank you, because you, the
people of the Southside here in Brisbane, have made the difference.
Now William, over to you.
WILLIAM HAGUE: Good morning ladies and gentlemen, it's a great pleasure
to be here this morning with my friend and colleague, Kevin Rudd.
And I think it's probably hard for you to realise how people are watching
on the other side of the world, as you were going through what you went
through last week. You were frantically dealing with it and your neighbours
were obviously helping out, but right all the way in Britain people were
watching hour by hour, minute by minute, hoping and praying for you.
And I don't know whether that's of any comfort at all, because there was no
actual help at the time, of course [laughs]. But people felt very strongly
about the scenes that they were seeing, were very distressed in Britain
about the things we saw on the television and so millions of people
elsewhere in the world, hundreds of millions, were really with you when you
were going through that ordeal last week.
I'm enormously impressed by the clean-up operation and everybody's talking
about the number of volunteers and the hard work that's gone into it. So
many things look back to normal just after a week. We're here in the,
whatever, the last of the mud, I think of the flood. But you've done an
inspiring job, which has also been noticed by the rest of the world.
We want to do everything that we can to help and there will be things that
Australia has accepted, some items of help that we have offered, in flood
recovery techniques and flood forecasting techniques and so on. So we want
to work with you on that, on the future - in the future.
But mainly, I just want to say that in Britain we admire your fortitude and
resilience in what you've been through and we were with you in spirit all
the way throughout it. And I want to wish you the very best of luck for the
rebuilding of the businesses that have been affected and the restoration of
all the homes affected. And judging by the way you've tackled this last
week, well, it won't be many weeks before all those businesses are back in
action and all those homes are fully back in use again.
So good luck with it, and all across the world people have noticed Brisbane
and will be visiting Brisbane to see how you got on and to be with you in
the future. Thank you very much and good luck for the future. Thanks a lot
KEVIN RUDD: Well, thanks very much, William.
We're just going to talk to a few more local people and then William's got
to start heading towards the airport, so thanks folks for coming out this
morning. And if you need to drift off to work or places like that, don't
let me hold you back. The city's now back in operation. But in the meantime
we'll talk to a few folk. Thanks very much.
QUESTION: Just before you go, can we ask, people have been grateful for
the support and everything that has been - wondering, there's been a lot of
donations coming in and auction, things being auctioned. I'm wondering
whether the princes, Harry and William, would be interested in wearing a
Queensland State of Origin jersey. Perhaps signing it and so we could
auction it. Would you...
WILLIAM HAGUE: Right, I'll take that. If you've got one there I'll take
it back for them.
KEVIN RUDD: We'll get you one.
WILLIAM HAGUE: Yeah, we'll sort that out.
QUESTION: That would be fantastic.
QUESTION: Mr Secretary, what sort of assistance is the - is your
Government providing us here in Queensland?
WILLIAM HAGUE: Well, we'd offer - we give any assistance that we can
give. Of course, we're a long way away and so direct assistance at the
time, as you understand, is a very difficult thing. But our Prime Minister
spoke to your Prime Minister last week to offer any assistance we could
give. We worked out that there are some things we have experience of
recovery from floods, and detailed work - the modelling and the forecasting
of floods - that may be of use here in the future. So we're going to
provide that assistance.
In addition, of course, here on the ground there were British Consular
staff here, themselves affected by the floods, who were working very hard
and indeed some of the people here today have asked me particularly to pass
on my thanks to the - their thanks to the consular staff working here. So
I'm going to go and do that now. So we were helping everywhere we could.
QUESTION: Do you think Brisbane can learn from flood mitigation measures
in place in London?
WILLIAM HAGUE: Well, I don't know. That's one of the things we could
look at. In London, certainly - a low-lying city - we have a major flood
barrier, we have flood defences built up over a very long time. It's an
entirely different situation. We've never experienced in London, of course,
the sort of continuing downpour over such a long period that you had here
But our experts are available to talk about all these things and to see if
anything can be learned from experience in other countries. And I think
you'll find not just in Britain but all across the world people are ready
to help with those discussions.
QUESTION: What was your reaction when you arrived here in Queensland?
WILLIAM HAGUE: Well, I am really amazed by the clean-up, actually,
because when you think that the water was up to the first level of the
block over there, and we all know what floods leave behind in terms of mud
and debris and plants and objects displaced, well then, to have got it back
to this state already I think is a great tribute to the people here and all
the volunteers who've been piling in to help. So I think that's my first
And the second, having met some people here, is the absolute resilience and
optimism of the people here, which is of course, the key thing that will
see them through.
QUESTION: Mr Hague, have you or will you be discussing with Mr Rudd
increasing troops in deployments into Afghanistan in the near future?
KEVIN RUDD: We went through all that yesterday, didn't we?
WILLIAM HAGUE: We've discussed - yeah, we gave a press conference about
that yesterday and we were both come to the - playing a major role in
QUESTION: Can you put a number on the...
WILLIAM HAGUE: ...and are strongly committed to that. But...
WILLIAM HAGUE: We're not here to set out any numbers in that. We're
KEVIN RUDD: [laughs] Nice try, mate.
WILLIAM HAGUE: We're looking at floods today.
KEVIN RUDD: It's a flood morning.
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