Authority born from disasters

Posted June 3, 2015

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Graeme Newton chats with first chairman of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and commander of first Brigade based in Brisbane Major General Mick Slater.

Disaster expert Graeme Newton has overseen more than $14b. of disaster recovery work throughout Queensland since 2011.

That includes two of the biggest disasters in recent times, Cyclone Yasi and the Brisbane floods.

In January 2011 south-east Queensland experienced extreme flash flooding in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley and major river flooding in the Brisbane and Bremer Rivers.

In excess of 20 rivers and streams had the highest floods on record and an estimated 200,000 people were affected.

On February 3 2011 Cyclone Yasi hit Mission Beach on the east coast of Queensland at category five intensity and was recorded as one of the most powerful cyclones to have affected Queensland since records commenced.

It was these disasters that prompted the establishment of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.

Mr Newton was appointed as the head of the organisation and led the team for four years before joining Deloitte as the head of crisis management.

Mr Newton and his QRA team were recognised for their work through the planning institute awards and Mr Newton was named as the ‘pioneering champion’ of the project.

“In the 2011 floods and cyclones there was still some residual damage from 2009 and 2010 so we were given that as a task as well,” Mr Newton said.

“Then in 2012 there were more floods in in south-west Queensland; 2013 there was Cyclone Oswald and 2014 there was more but not to the same extent. All of that added up to a total of about $14b.”

The flooding was some of the highest on record which meant you couldn’t always rely on history he said.

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