Australian prime minister Julia Gillard stopped in at the Ipswich SES Depot on Wednesday to thank those that worked so hard last January.
Australian prime minister Julia Gillard stopped in at the Ipswich SES Depot on Wednesday to thank those that worked so hard last January. Rob Williams

Gillard thanks SES heroes

"THANK you." That was the simple message Prime Minister Julia Gillard had for local SES crews.

Ms Gillard met with members of the Ipswich, Marburg and Rosewood crews yesterday to thank them for the vital work they undertook in the flood exactly one year ago.

"Thank you very much for everything you did when this part of the world faced such a major challenge 12 months ago," she said.

"To use the words that the local police officer was using inside, these are the guys and girls who just don't flinch, who get out and get it done even when it's really tough and so it's a huge, huge credit to them.

"I know in those really difficult times that it was the sight of you, the sight of your uniform and everything that it signified about a helping hand that enabled people to get through."

Ms Gillard said she understood the pain many residents were still going through and promised continued Federal Government support for flood victims.

"I understand that there are a lot of people who are heavy of heart and a lot of people who are still battling real difficulties on their way.

"I think it's to be anticipated that the sadness will be hitting people again 12 months later.

"On the practical work we're continuing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Queensland government and with the local council to make available resources to help with the reconstruction.

"We're going to keep working with people and supporting people as they keep working their way through this long journey of recovery.

"So a lot's been achieved but I'm really conscious there's more to be done."

Ipswich SES local controller Arie van den Ende said while the SES crew trained for the natural disasters, they never liked putting their skills to use.

"This is what we do, we train for these sorts of events but I can assure you we don't look forward to having this sort of event, we really don't.

"Because we work on pagers and mobile phones and we know that every time it goes off that somebody is in hardship."

Mr van den Ende took the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister for an automated sandbagging machine.

"In the flood time we actually issued 11,000 plus sandbags, and they were all manually filled and I'm asking for support or assistance in actually getting an automatic sandbagging machine.

Ms Gillard said the machine, which would cost upwards of $40,000, would be considered. "Something tells me that Arie plus Shayne (Neumann) is a very, very forceful combination," she said.

Ms Gillard was joined by Federal member for Blair Shayne Neumann and Federal member for Oxley Bernie Ripoll at the headquarters to thank the volunteers.

The local crews were joined by SES volunteers from Coolangatta who made their way to Ipswich to help locals during their hour of need.

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