House debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Constituency Statements

Fadden Electorate: Storms

9:42 am

Cameron Caldwell (Fadden, Liberal National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to speak of the devastating Christmas Day tornado that wreaked havoc across the northern Gold Coast and particularly in my electorate of Fadden. Christmas is usually a time of joy and celebration spent with loved ones. However, last year it delivered a devastating blow to many people across the Gold Coast as we were hit by severe thunderstorms and a tornado, leaving a trail of destruction unlike anything we've seen before. Almost 40,000 homes were left without power, some for up to seven days, and many people suffered enormous property damage, together with emotional and financial stress.

For example, an aged-care facility in Runaway Bay, home to 48 of our community's most vulnerable residents, was without power for four days in heatwave conditions. I was pleased that my advocacy to Energex delivered a fit-for-purpose generator in their time of need, to help these most vulnerable people. Small businesses were forced to shut their doors during the busiest season of the year, missing out on substantial sales—not to mention the loss of stock for some of our hospitality businesses.

During a time when families would normally be relaxing and resetting for the year ahead, Gold Coasters were instead undertaking emergency repairs to their homes, throwing out rotten food from fridges and freezers, and commencing what has become a mammoth clean-up to remove storm debris. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis—in addition to the challenge of keeping food on the table—residents had to spend more money to restock their fridges and freezers with essentials and to undertake repairs to their homes.

In the days following the storm I wrote to the Minister for Emergency Management, urging the government to provide financial assistance reflecting the catastrophic nature of the event and to take a generous approach to the eligibility criteria, noting the hardship many were already facing at that time and the timeliness of those payments being critical for recovery. The announcement of the Australian government disaster recovery payment was welcomed by residents in Biggera Waters, Coombabah, Coomera, Gaven, Helensvale, Hollywell, Labrador, Oxenford, Pacific Pines, Paradise Point and Runaway Bay. Following further collaboration and advocacy, I was pleased to see three more suburbs added to the eligibility: Pimpama, Hope Island and Parkwood, which had also suffered enormous damage.

On a lighter note, I was heartened by the community response to the disaster and to witness the camaraderie between neighbours in the days following the tornado—residents sharing generators to keep the fridges running and lights on or even opening their homes after regaining power. The resilience was truly remarkable. I want to especially acknowledge some of my local colleagues, Councillor Shelley Curtis, David Crisafulli MP and Mark Boothman MP, who all worked tirelessly to keep the community informed and to support residents in their time of need. I want to give a special shout-out to the Energex crews, the local emergency services and SES volunteers, who absolutely did an amazing job with the clean-up.


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