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Royal Commission Into Child Sexual Abuse: Commissioners, Terms Of Reference Announced

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has announced the names of six Commissioners and the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.


The Royal Commission will be led by Justice Peter McClellan, currently Chief Judge at Common Law of the Supreme Court of NSW.

He will be assisted by the former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson; Justice Jennifer Coate, the Victorian Coroner; Robert Fitzgerald, a Commissioner with the Productivity Commission; Professor Helen Milroy, a consultatn psychiatrist; and Andrew Murray, former Democrats Senator.

The Royal Commission will not examine child sexual abuse in families.

Gillard was joined by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Families Minister Jenny Macklin at her press conference. [Read more…]

Queensland Floods: Latest Briefings

This is the audio of today’s briefings on the Queensland floods.

  • 16.45pm AEDT – Anna Bligh briefing.
  • 16.15pm AEDT – Tony Abbott on foresight.
  • 2.40pm AEDT – Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts and Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson briefing.
  • 2.20pm AEDT – Tony Abbott speaks to ABC News24.
  • 1.30pm AEDT – Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman speaks about flood conditions and arrangements.
  • 1.10pm AEDT – Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks to the media in Brisbane.
  • 12.30pm AEDT – Premier Anna Bligh announces that a 24-year-old man has died after being sucked into a stormwater drain in Brisbane.
  • 11.50am AEDT – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaks to Channel 9.

Brisbane Flood Peaks; 13th Victim Found

11.20am AEDT – Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has held a press conference to provide an update on the Brisbane floodwaters which peaked overnight at around 4.5/4.6 metres, lower than expected.

Anna Bligh press conference in Brisbane


  • Listen to Premier Anna Bligh’s Press Conference.

Bligh said Queensland is reeling this morning from possibly the worst disaster in our history. The reconstruction program will be of post-war proportions.

Whilst flood levels are slowly falling elsewhere, Bligh said concerns remained about Goondiwindi and Condamine where it is still rising.

A 13th victim was found this morning in a field near Grantham. 70 people are still missing. A major search and rescue mission is now underway in the Lockyer Valley. Police did not confirm media questions about a “mass grave” under a collapsed bridge in Grantham. Some reports suggest up to 30 victims are trapped there.

There are major supply issues in places like Rockhampton where water is not falling as fast as anticipated.

In the south-east 118,000 residences are without electricity. The traffic management system is struggling because traffic cameras are out. Bligh urged people not to use the roads unless absolutely necessary.

Bligh said thousands of people have woken to the “unbearable agony” of homes and businesses washed away. Bligh’s voice broke as she talked:

  • Listen to Anna Bligh

“As we weep for what we have lost and as we grieve for family and friends and we confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are. We are Queenslanders. We’re the people that they breed tough north of the border. We’re the ones that they knock down and we get up again. I said earlier this week that this weather may break our hearts – and it is doing that – but it will not break our will. And in the coming weeks and the coming months we are going to prove that beyond any doubt. Together we can pull through this and that’s what I’m determined to do and with your help we can achieve it.”

Bligh spoke of the floating walkway as the modern face of a thriving, sophisticated city, “and we watched it float away.” The 300 tonnes of concrete broke loose last night but was steered out of the river system by a tug.

As the focus of the flood centres on Brisbane, Bligh was at pains to resassure regional Queenslanders that “you will not be forgotten.”

Bligh said 70 towns and cities across Queensland have been affected by the flood, either inundated to some extent or cut off. Rockhampton is still cut off by air.

Bligh said there will be further difficult news to come. Towns may have to build something different from what has been destroyed.

Queensland Floods: Latest Briefings

8.35pm AEDT – At a briefing tonight, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said 1000 homes in Ipswich are now inundated although the flood has peaked there. Brisbane’s peak at 4am tomorrow will be slightly lower than expected. Chinchilla has peaked.

Anna Bligh media briefing on Queensland floodsThe death toll stands at 12, the number unaccounted for at 43. There are grave concerns for some of them and “we are despondent about finding them all.”

The Moggill ferry has broken a guide rope. A 1.5 tonne anchor will be flown in by helicopter in the morning and will be used to secure the ferry. The Island barge/boat will either be secured or scuttled. Naval divers are on their way to assist in the event of a decision to sink it.

The Floating Walkway around New Farm is at risk of disloding. It will be broken up into sections and disposed of.

115,000 properties have had the power cut off already. This is another reason to evacuate now.

Police say they have had only one case of forcible evacuation of a man with a firearm. There has only been one case of looting.

Bligh said the flood will peak at 4am tonight. Many people will find water their streets tonight and should make the decision to leave. Now is not the time for complacency.

Bligh said Brisbane residents will take up to scenes like they’ve never seen in their lives. People need to brace themselves for what they will witness. Already there are parts of Brisbane that are unrecognisable with some areas looking like inland lakes.

There will be a substantial economic impact, Bligh said. The coal industry would take several weeks, if not months, to get back to normal. Agricultural producers have been seriously affected. Cotton growers have lost their second crop in a row.

Cuts to supply lines, especially railway lines and major arterial roads, will have a major impact. Bligh said the state can recover quickly and reconstruction will be the top priority after the crisis is over.

Police have still not gathered details about the two people who have been found alive after they were swept away by flood waters.

  • Premier Anna Bligh and Police Commisioner Bob Atkinson briefing.

4.45pm AEDT

  • Listen to Qld Minister for Police and Emergency Services Neil Roberts and Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson briefing.

The death toll now stands at 12. There are grave fears for 9 people and 51 are unaccounted for.

Police are aware of two people found alive after having earlier been swept away by flood waters.

The Brisbane River is now at 4.16 metres and rising, expected to peak at 5.5 metres around 4.00am. This is above 1974 levels.

Ipswich flood level is around 19 metres but still expected to rise about 20 metres.

2.30pm AEDT

  • Anna Bligh press conference.

Bligh announced the bodies of two men have been found in the Lockyer Valley.

Bligh said the number of people unaccounted for is now 66. The number fluctuates.

Chincilla is bracing for a worse flood than the one they had two weeks ago.

The river at Ipswich is 19.2 metres. Many areas of Ipswich inundated.

The Moggill ferry in Brisbane has broken one of its two ropes and may be sunk to prevent it becoming a torpedo down the river.

3585 people are located in 57 evacuation centres, 1500 of these in Ipswich.

Buses into the Brisbane CBD have stopped, although trains are running on public holiday timetable. All tolls have been cancelled on roads. Bligh said the Central Business District will look like a ghost town around now and for the next few days.

Substantial aerial support is available: 25 helicopters, 11 of them military are in use, some transmitting streaming live footage of conditions back to the emergency control room.

2.15pm AEDT

  • Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman press conference (end only).

2.00pm AEDT

  • NSW Premier Kristina Keneally and Director-General of Emergency Services Murray Kear press conference in Grafton.

11.30am AEDT

  • Premier Anna Bligh, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chief of Defence Angus Houston held a joint press conference with an overnight update on the flood situation.

Overnight the peak flood level for Ipswich has been revised downwards to 20.5 metres but this is equivalent to the 1974 peak.

The death toll now stands at 10, with 90 missing.