Joint media release:
Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Kevin Rudd MP Queensland Premier and Reconstruction Minister, The Hon Anna Bligh MP United Arab Emirates Minister of State, Her Excellency Reem Al-Hashemi 9 May 2011
Premier Bligh and United Arab Emirates Minister of State Her Excellency Reem Al-Hashemi have announced $60 million to fund 10 cyclone shelters and multipurpose facilities in North Queensland.
Ms Bligh said a gift of $30 million from the emirate of Abu Dhabi towards building 5 more Category 5-rated multi-purpose cyclone shelters would be matched by State Government funding.
The shelters will be designed and constructed to Category 5 standard and to provide protection to more than 500 people each from winds up to 300km/h, windborne debris and storm tide inundation.
The location of the centres will be finalised after consultation with local government and local State Government members but are expected to include: Cairns, Townsville, Cassowary Coast, Proserpine/ Arlie Beach, Mackay/ Sarina, Yeppoon/ Rockhampton and Weipa. Exact locations will be announced on 1 July 2011.
“This means North Queensland will be more resilient and safer than ever before,” said Premier and Reconstruction Minister Anna Bligh.
“This is an extremely generous gift from Abu Dhabi which will build a lasting legacy of goodwill and partnership between Abu Dhabi and Queensland.
“Not only is this a generous offer but it is a practical offer of support that could save lives in the future.
“We will build these shelters as quickly as we can and I want as many as possible to open progressively during 2012.
“They are not to be closed-up shelters only used in emergencies. The buildings will provide multi-purpose facilities to allow for year-round community use such as auditoriums, theatres, school multi-purpose centres, community halls and gymnasiums or indoor sports centres.”
Her Excellency Reem Al-Hashemi said Abu Dhabi is pleased to help build the shelters knowing that they would be valued assets for decades to come — and not just as evacuation centres in time of crisis.
“Abu Dhabi believes in the strength and resilience of the people of Queensland. We are pleased to be able to strengthen the community and safety infrastructure of Queensland with this $30M contribution.
“At short notice, the shelters will be able to safely house thousands of people and offer valuable community services for the people of Queensland year round,” she said.
More than 8,000 thousand people were sheltered in make-shift evacuation centres when Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasi hit in early February. Three cyclones hit Queensland this season — Tasha (Cat 1) Anthony (Cat 2) and Yasi (Cat 5).
The Premier said that following a commitment in August 2006 to provide cyclone shelters as public buildings are upgraded in cyclone areas Queensland already has four Category 5-rated shelters — Cooktown, Kowanyama, Innisfail and Redlynch.
“These new cyclone shelters are to be:
multi-purpose in nature and located on State land, equipped as functioning evacuation centres with kitchens and generators, contain storage space for bedding, fresh water and canned food, have adjoining helicopter access, and be fitted with shower and toilet facilities. “They will be adaptable and easily used as community facilities, for the likes of sports and recreation.
“For example their use might be as libraries, theatres or basketball courts. It is likely they will located at existing government facilities, like schools, Technical and further education Colleges (TAFEs), hospitals or possibly Police-Citizens Youth Welfare Association (PCYC) buildings.
“The Department of Public Works (DPW) will immediately undertake four weeks consultation with State MPs and local councils regarding specific local needs, location and use.”
The DPW will project manage the shelters design and construction.
“Public Works — in consultation with the Department of Community Safety — has already undertaken extensive design, investigation and produced detailed guidelines for such facilities,” said the Premier.
“It will also use its links to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, James Cook University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in further developing final plans.”
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the gift from Abu Dhabi was an extremely generous act from a good friend to Queensland.
“Abu Dhabi is also a great and growing trading partner and they and their associated companies play a growing role in the areas of education, tourism and sport,” he said.
“Queensland merchandise exports to UAE were $180 million in the 09-10 financial year and Queensland imported $734 million worth of products from the UAE.
“I am confident our friendship will continue for many years to come.”
Media inquiries Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500 DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555