Premier Anna Bligh, Australia Day Lunch Speech Tuesday 25 January
Our Nation's character is built on stories.
From the ancient tales of dreamtime to the struggles of settlement, through to World Wars and times of peace, our history makes us who we are.
So often our story has been one of defiance, resilience and renewal. Mother Nature, who has given us so much, can sometimes extract a terrible price. But what our past also tells us is that our nation harbours a spirit that neither earth, nor wind, nor fire, nor water can extinguish.
Each year as we celebrate this national day, we add a chapter to our nation's story and this year Queensland adds a ripper.
After seven years of drought, the great flood of 2011 is a story of the awesome power of water.
Water, which impacted approximately 70 per cent of our vast land and affected around 60 per cent of our entire population. Water that has taken lives, destroyed homes and torn families apart.
From regional centres like Toowoomba, Rockhampton and Bundaberg, to small towns like Grantham, Condamine, Theodore and St George, to our largest cities like Ipswich and Brisbane, water left a trail of devastation and heartbreak.
The entire town of Theodore was evacuated by helicopter - the first time this has happened in our history. In the Darling Downs the town of Condamine had to be evacuated twice as flood waters rose, then receded, then cruelly rose again.
Across the State nearly 5,500 homes were inundated and over 21000 houses were affected in some way. The Australian Defence Force transported a total of 680 tonnes of food and equipment and nearly 6000 people were evacuated.
The scale of the torrent is hard to comprehend. It took lives; it destroyed billions of dollars of infrastructure, washed crops from farms and devastated homes. It left behind economic and social problems that it will take every ounce of our resolve to fix.
But this story is about much more than...