Two days in a bathtub to survive Debbie

Lifelong Proserpine resident Helen Muller has been so devastated by Cyclone Debbie she hasn’t eaten since it tore through north Queensland on Tuesday.


The sheer intensity of the Category 4 system forced the 59-year-old to cower in her bathtub for two days just to survive.

Ms Muller said all she had with her was her dog Poppa, a mattress and a bucket to go to the toilet in.

“I had no food,” she told AAP on Thursday.

“I haven’t eaten since, I just cannot eat.”

Ms Muller said she thought she was going to die when the walls of her fibro house started to crack during the cyclonic winds.

“The house was rocking,” she said.

“I thought ‘this is going to be it, there is not going to be me here anymore’.

“If that back door had broken off I would have gone with it.”

Ms Muller’s two-door garage was completely destroyed by the cyclone.

The iron roof was flung into her neighbours’ yards, her car was written off and the blinds were stripped from the windows.

The contents of her shed, including cupboards and a ride-on mower, now lie strewn across her lawn.

Ms Muller, who has lived in the house her whole life, said she had to wait for the army to arrive to help with the clean-up.

“That shed’s got asbestos in it and they’re the only ones that can deal with it,” she said.

“It’s a huge job, it’s all heavy lifting too and I’m past all that.”

Proserpine, just inland of Airlie Beach, was one of the worst hit areas as Debbie unleashed 260km/h winds on the Whitsunday Coast.

Some buildings were untouched, but others were razed to the ground.

Proserpine Motor Lodge owner Kerry Campbell couldn’t help but laugh when she saw the roof had been torn off most of her rooms, the restaurant and the storage shed.

“I mean, what else could we do?” she told AAP on Thursday.

“It’s hilarious, it just cracked me right up.

“It’s just devastation everywhere.”

Ms Campbell and her partner Peter Stokes said they watched on from the safety of their adjoining home as the wind lifted the roof off the motel rooms.

“It just curled it over like a wave,” she said.

“I think most of Proserpine has most of my roof in their backyard.

“I’ve shared it all around, just in case anyone needed some tin.”

The pair have owned the business, located just off the Bruce Highway, for the past 16 years.

Ms Campbell said they wanted to continue on but would have to wait for their insurance company to assess the damage.

Proserpine and Airlie Beach have been largely cut off from emergency services in recent days, but subsiding floodwaters have enabled crews to start accessing the area to start the clean-up.

A lack of power has meant most businesses have remained closed, but some supermarkets used generators to open on Thursday to allow customers to stock up on supplies.

The Proserpine Woolworths did its bit to help the community by handing out free bags of ice to residents.

New NSW top cop to reform force

Potential lone wolf terrorists will be targeted under the leadership of incoming commissioner Mick Fuller, who’s vowed to overhaul the NSW policing model for the first time in two decades

Mr Fuller, 49, will replace Andrew Scipione as the state’s police chief from Monday.


“There has been no prouder moment in my life,” the assistant commissioner said in Sydney on Thursday.

“I think my wife nearly passed out (on hearing the news).”

Mr Fuller, who started out as a junior officer in 1987, brings 16 years’ operational policing experience to the role and has proposed an extensive reform agenda.

He argues existing resources are strategically misplaced.

“Our structure hasn’t essentially changed in 20 years,” he said.

“While that has serviced us well in some areas, the downside is the community has changed, the environment has changed and crime has changed.”

Mr Fuller wants local area commands to have more flexibility. He plans to crack down on mid-level crime in rural areas and tackle the ice scourge.

The 49-year-old headed up the Kings Cross drug squad in the 1990s when heroin use was rife.

The assistant commissioner was also the first high-ranking officer in command at 2014’s Lindt Cafe siege and has declared a new team will hunt would-be lone wolf terrorists.

“There is a real opportunity in prevention to look at people who are not active targets,” he said on Thursday.

One of Mr Fuller’s first challenges will be reacting to the findings of the Lindt inquest, expected within weeks, and he promised not to “drag the chain” on suggested changes.

“We will face the good and bad in that,” he said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian was “thrilled” about the appointment, which was endorsed at a cabinet meeting on Thursday after an independent panel assessed eight high-profile contenders, including current deputy commissioners David Hudson and Cath Burn, and the later’s former rival, Nick Kaldas.

“Today is a new chapter – it’s a new page in the history of NSW,” the premier said.

Mr Fuller has promised there won’t be a “circus” when it comes to appointing five deputy positions and other assistant commissioner roles, which will be opened up to all senior police.

The government will be hoping Mr Fuller’s appointment will bring to an end infighting within senior ranks linked to the long-running police bugging saga.

Ms Berejiklian refused to be drawn on whether Mr Fuller represented a “neutral” option.

“He is the option that will take the police force forward,” she said.

Police Minister Troy Grant insisted Mr Fuller had the necessary support from rank and file officers.

The Police Association of NSW was also quick to welcome his appointment.

“The process to modernise (NSW Police) is progressing and we look forward to working with Mr Fuller as a matter of priority to advance this and deliver a better policing model for the community,” association president Scott Weber said in a statement.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley said Mr Fuller had his full support.

“We won’t be playing politics with a new police commissioner. We’ll be getting behind him and if the government changes, Commissioner Fuller stays,” he said.

WA Libs’ Freight Link legacy angers Labor

The Barnett government’s decision to not only just push ahead with the Perth Freight Link as their election loss loomed but also pick a controversial starting point was a “scorched earth policy”, WA’s new Labor government says.


A leaked document shows Main Roads set out two options, addressing the possibility of Labor winning the election and stopping construction on the project.

One option minimised costs and delayed clearing at the Beeliar Wetlands, but the former government opted instead to cut a path through the environmentally-sensitive area, which carried the financial risk of $50 million in sunk costs for contract cancellation.

Sunk costs for the other option, which involved starting near Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch, were half that figure.

Labor had long vowed to tear up the contract if it won power and the Liberals knew polling pointed to an election wipe-out.

Labor suspended work within 24 hours of its landslide election win.

“They were being told internally that they were going to lose the election. They wilfully signed a contract even though they were told about the significant exit costs,” Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said on Thursday.

“We warned the government not to. They went for the high cost, scorched earth policy.”

Premier Mark McGowan said he was angered by the decision, labelling it grossly reckless and irresponsible.

“They went for the far more destructive and expensive option,” he told 6PR.

“They thought they were going to lose the election so they decided to burn the house down.”

Ms Saffioti said the aim was to vary the contract, rather than cancel it, and assign the companies other “shovel-ready” metropolitan transport projects in a bid to keep the workforce employed.

She said it had been done before, but acknowledged negotiations would be complex.

Varying the contract would “minimise the exit cost” but it would still amount to about $50 million, including the cost of work done so far and rehabilitating 42 hectares of cleared land, she said.

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan baulked at the plan, saying renegotiating the project undermined the tender process.

“It’s not a variation of contract … it’s a totally different project and they can’t even say which project,” Dr Nahan told reporters.

“There’s no way he (Mr McGowan) has a bevy of projects lined up with business cases, with environmental clearance, to make up for the jobs lost at the Perth Freight Link.”

Earlier on Thursday, Liberal MP Dean Nalder, who was transport minister until September when he went to the back bench after a failed bid to oust Colin Barnett as party leader, admitted it was “inappropriate” to start work during the election campaign.