4 Jan 2011

Govt sending Civil Defence team to Queensland

8:30 pm on 4 January 2011

The Government is to send a small Civil Defence team to help flood victims in Queensland.

Flooding over the past 10 days is estimated to have affected 200,000 people in Queensland, played a part in 10 deaths and done billions of dollars' worth of damage to the state and national economies.

Five hundred homes have now been evacuated in the flooded city of Rockhampton and residents are having to deal with raw sewage, swarms of mosquitoes and power blackouts.

The Fitzroy River has swollen to 9.2 metres, inundating low-lying areas, and is expected to rise even further, peaking sometime on Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says the scale of the flooding is unprecedented and the true extent of the damage will only become clear once the waters subside.

Phone conversation between PMs

Mr McCully says Australia has always been ready to help when New Zealand is in need, most recently during the Pike River disaster.

He says the deployment comes after a phone conversation on Tuesday between the two countries' prime ministers, who agreed that a small team should be sent.

The team of 10-15 personnel is expected to depart for Brisbane within 48 hours.