Minister Shorten interview on the Today Show


SUBJECTS: Maribyrnong River flooding.

CHRISTINE AHERN, TODAY SHOW: Here in Maribyrnong the emergency is over, but the clean-up has only just begun. The focus, however, for the SES today will be regional Victoria, because there are five evacuation orders that are current. 

But here in Maribyrnong it is a smelly, muddy mess. You can only feel for the residents. Because this is all through their homes, was scenes of just utter disbelief at this time yesterday morning as the Maribyrnong River burst its banks, and of course flowed through all these homes, inundating about 60 homes just in this area alone. 

For more, I'm going to bring in the federal member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten. Bill, thank you so much for joining us this morning. This is your community. How do you feel seeing it like this?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: I feel just upset for the people who've been flooded. I've been talking to residents here. On one hand, it's amazing. They've got a very resilient spirit. They say we've got to clean up. But on the other hand, it's just shocking. Mud is a beast when it gets across the floorboards, and it's smelly. It's- there's a big job to be done here. But we can already hear the council trucks out, the bulldozers. We'll probably want a few more of them in the next week or two.

AHERN: It was absolutely surreal what took place here yesterday morning. Could you ever imagine that the floodwaters would rise that much here in Maribyrnong?

SHORTEN: History says in theory, it's possible. But, you know, this is where I run along this river, right here. It's- the water was above our head levels. So, now whilst the river's moving quite quickly, it's relatively sedate, more like the Maribyrnong that we residents recognise. But the speed which it moved, I think, shocked residents. And the fact that it's just that four metres, four metre surge.

AHERN: Now, I've spoken to a lot of residents this morning, and they say they just didn't get enough warning. One lady just told us half an hour ago that the SES knocked on her door at 5:30am. She didn't get the text message till six. She came up and there was already flood waters all over the roads. Did they get enough warning?

SHORTEN: So, I think the SES yesterday did an amazing job rescuing people, 60 rescues. I've heard some residents say exactly that, and I've heard other people say that the door knocking happened and it was effective. I'm sure there'll be time to consider any lessons, but at the moment I think the best focus for all of us, is we've just got to clean it up, got to help people with the payments, got to help- there's a recovery centre just up the road here. They'll be, it's open right now from 9:00. There'll be people in there giving counselling. For me, the priority is people with their insurance, people with their clean up, making sure the council and the State Government have got the resources they need from the Federal Government. That's what Prime Minister Albanese Albanese's promised. That's why we want to help deliver.

AHERN: Which was my next question. The Federal Government, I mean, these people are going to need so much assistance. The Federal Government, they're going to step up?

SHORTEN: Yeah, absolutely. I've been in touch with Murray Watt, he's the Minister who coordinates the emergency response. I know the Prime Minister is following this, and I and my colleague Daniel Mulino, we've been on the ground since yesterday- when it happened. This is our community. We just want to make sure that the resources are there. It's going to be a fair bit of work here. The good- the one thing I've got to say, though, is no one died, no one drowned. I know there's a lot of really nasty mud to clean up, and that's pretty- a lot of pressure on people. The poor old Odd Anglers Tavern flooded. But I think we'll get through this.

AHERN: And one thing you mention about people needing help, not only financially, but other kind of help. Because it was terrifying for so many residents here yesterday morning, wasn't it? They're going to need a lot of support.

SHORTEN: Yes. People's sense of security, you know, we always count on our, you know, we call our home our castle. But, you know, there was an invasion yesterday by water. There will be counsellors available at the local community centre. My thoughts also go to the residents of northern Tassie at the moment, people up in central Victoria and Rochester. One thing I would say to people, is if you're not coping, that's okay. There's no rule book in a disaster like this. If you're not coping, that's fine. And just ask for help because there is help available.

AHERN: That's absolutely good advice. And we're going to see you out with a shovel later on in the next couple of days, Bill?

SHORTEN: I've had a couple I've had a couple of my neighbours say, oh, not my neighbours, but people here say: come on Bill…

AHERN: … Get into it.

SHORTEN: Do some real work for once!

AHERN: We look forward to seeing it. Bill Shorten, thank you so much for joining us and for your time.

SHORTEN: Thanks, good on you.