Friday, March 24, 2006


Ken and Laura Willey were Innisfail locals, they worked together on the banana farms as pickers, not making much money, but enough to have rent a house and to have brought some secondhand furniture to make their lives more comfortable. They didn't have a lot before Cyclone Larry, but now they've got nothing.

They were just some of the hundreds of people who spent three or four days queueing up in the town square at Innisfail, waiting for some fast cash so they could get out of the devastated area and find some more work, and a new place to live.

They had been living in their old Commodore since their house and all their clothes, possesions and personal effects were destroyed on Monday morning. They had never been able to afford insurance, so they were left with the clothes they had been wearing for three days.

"We just want $300 that will allow us to last a few more days and let us get out of town," Mrs Willey was reported as saying, on

"There's nothing here for us any more."

"As soon as we get enough money for petrol and food we're going up to Cairns," Mr Willey said . "We'll get labouring work somewhere."

The Wileys are two of the hard-working Australians you never here about in a media obsessed with share market success stories, $10million celebrities' apartments, booze-fucked sports stars and super-boomer affluence.

The Wileys, like a few million other Australians, live from week to week, from one thin pay packet to the next, they don't own their own homes, they can't afford health or home insurance, they have few if any savings and one disaster like Cyclone Larry can render them poverty stricken and homeless, all within a few hours, completely wiped out., with no fallback, except for the old Commodore.

The Wileys regarded themselves as lucky that they had an old car to sleep in. There were hundreds in Innisfail who didn't even have that.