People's PM reassures NW Queensland

Scott Morrison talks flood recovery at Burke and Wills campdraft


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Prime Minister Scott Morrison and deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack with some of their youngest fans, Breanna Easton, Camaray Downs, Richmond, and Sophie and Issie Spreadborough, Spoonbill Station.Julia Creek.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack with some of their youngest fans, Breanna Easton, Camaray Downs, Richmond, and Sophie and Issie Spreadborough, Spoonbill Station.Julia Creek.

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The Burke and Wills campdraft may never see the like again but on Friday the Prime Minister dropped in to say hello.

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The Burke and Wills campdraft may never see the like again but on Friday the Prime Minister dropped in to say hello.

He chatted with youngsters about their pets, inspected Ben and Jaye Hall's mobile schoolroom at the invitation of their children, asked property owners and managers what else his government could do to help them recover, and was offered a horse to go for a run by Fort Constantine's Georgia Turner.

It was day two of a visit begun the previous evening when Scott Morrison flew into Cloncurry, five days after his government was returned in the federal election, to share a beer and lots of conversation with about 200 locals at the Cloncurry Bowls Club.

Joined by deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Senator-elect Susan McDonald and Shane Stone, the head of the livestock reconstruction agency, his trip was aimed not only at speaking with people to hear how the recovery effort was going but to keep the natural disaster in front of the nation.

The campdraft grounds are on Canobie Station in the northern part of the Cloncurry shire and were ground zero when the massive flood in the Flinders River bore down upon them in February.

Mr Morrison said he wanted to "remind the country there's still a lot of work to do here, there's still a long road ahead".

"We've had the election and that's had a lot of focus and attention and rightly so," he said. "Getting on with the job means getting here."

It was a move that had the desired effect among those at the campdraft.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Bella Joseland, Corella Park, Cloncurry, Freddie Thompson, Gleeson Station, Cloncurry, and Georgia Turner, Fort Constantine, Cloncurry.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Bella Joseland, Corella Park, Cloncurry, Freddie Thompson, Gleeson Station, Cloncurry, and Georgia Turner, Fort Constantine, Cloncurry.

Cloncurry grazier Peter Hacon said it was a reassuring thing to do.

"We just said to him, the generosity through the floods has been unbelievable, from a political angle right down to us all getting smokos and cakes from people down south.

"We weren't expecting him to come out so quickly after the election, not at all.

"We get the feeling - Scott's been up here two or three times now and we all connect with him. He's got a connection in this part of the world with us all."

Read more: PM promises to rebuild NW cattle industry

It was a feeling that was mirrored by Mr Morrison's words.

"When you come here you can only be filled with pride and admiration for these wonderful Australians.

"This is such an important way of life in Australia and we want to make sure it continues."

Mr Hacon described he and his brother, who own Granada and Cubbaroo, as not as badly affected as a lot of other people, losing 1800-1900 cattle and "a bit of fencing".

"We're lucky," he said. "The cattle and horses here - it just shows the resilience of the area and everyone just gets on with it."

The people of the north west instinctively knew they had to come together to survive after the shocking weather event, and vowed to keep social events such as the Burke and Wills campdraft going.

Edwina Hick, Argyle, Julia Creek, described them as their social fabric.

"If we didn't have these we wouldn't see anybody, really," she said. "I think it was very important that the show must go on in all these campdrafts because it was looking like we wouldn't have any, but people have put in a massive effort to make sure they do."

As far as having the Prime Minister drop in, she said it was very uplifting for everyone that he cared.

"Scott Morrison did say, win, lose or draw, he would be back in the north west and he's a man of his word," she said.

Related: Australia must stand behind the north west

Mr Morrison said all the feedback they'd received so far was that the recovery plan was hitting the mark.

"At a time when people really needed the government to be here, we have been here," he said. "Being here has been a great encouragement to people and it's enabled them to get on with the work they've been doing."

Earlier in the day Mr Morrison had a big hug for Cloncurry's Jacqueline Curley, who with her husband Robert and family, showed the Prime Minister the utter devastation they and hundreds of others had been battered by, when he visited in February.

The Prime Minister's entourage visited Gipsy Plains for breakfast on Friday morning, viewing the pen of orphaned poddies the family and staff were lovingly rearing after their mothers died.

Scott Morrison remembering February's terrible weather event.

Scott Morrison remembering February's terrible weather event.

A montage of Ms Curley's graphic photos of the terrible scenes that confronted them when the weather cleared was played as a reminder, and Mr Morrison borrowed an ATV to return to the fencelines that had dead cattle piled up on them a couple of months earlier.

"Last time I was here there were carcases on the ground, the smell was overwhelming," he said. "Just to see the transformation since the dreadful floods is amazing."

If Friday's action at Burke and Wills is anything to go by, Mr Morrison could become the most capped Prime Minister in Australia's history.

The cap he wore in Julia Creek in February, promoting Pratt Cattle Transport, was the subject of a national Twitter storm when a journalist questioned his choice of headwear.

Mr Morrison was staunch in his defence of the family trucking business, saying the comments were disrespectful.

As a result, plenty of north western businesses wanted to donate their cap to the cause this week when he reappeared on the scene.

The last thing Mr Morrison did in Cloncurry before flying back to Sydney was to visit the town's cemetery, where the ashes of his great great aunt are interred.

It turns out she is the woman on the ten dollar note, Dame Mary Gilmore, literary icon and avowed communist.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visiting the resting place of his great great aunt, Dame Mary Gilmore.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visiting the resting place of his great great aunt, Dame Mary Gilmore.

She married William Gilmore while both were part of the New Australia communal movement in Paraguay, but moved apart after returning to Australia, disillusioned with the socialist experiment.

While Mary moved to Sydney, William joined his brother at Leilavale, east of Cloncurry. When he was 17, their son Billy joined his father. Together they purchased Greenwood Station east of the town.

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