The dinner, which was held at the Brisbane Hilton on Wednesday 16 February 2011, was opened by APIA Chief Executive Cheryl Cartwright, who thanked APIA members for allowing their staff to volunteer their time in support of the Association. This was followed by a few words from sponsors Wasco and WDS Ltd and the presentation of a plaque to Clough, which has recently become a Lead Member of APIA.
The main speaker for the dinner was Mr Macfarlane. Mr Macfarlane discussed infrastructure development in regional Australia, saying that these areas will continue to benefit from industry projects, and that resource development has the potential to re-populate some regional areas in Queensland.
The audience listened attentively as Mr Macfarlane went on to speak about the flooding, describing how on 10 January 2011, the equivalent of nine months of rain fell in one hour, causing an inland tsunami which “ripped Toowoomba in half” and resulted in $5 billion worth of damage.
He pointed out the significant impact on the resource industry, using the region’s transport issues as an example; with huge traffic jams and railways down for another three to six months, material for Queensland infrastructure cannot be transported.
Mr Macfarlane said that to overcome the devastation of the floods, Queensland would need co-operation and good will, and that the resource sector would need to share the work of rebuilding infrastructure. He predicted that 2011 would see a re-appraisal of skill shortages for these areas.
Finally, Mr Macfarlane closed his speech by saying the disaster had brought the community together, showing the strength of the Australian spirit and the greatness of our country.