ENOUGH WITH THE OFFICIAL VISITS, SAY LOCALS
In the space of just one week, the small North Queensland town of Innisfail has been visited by Prime Minister John Howard, the State Premier Peter Beattie, the Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, three other QLD Government ministers, Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley...and a stream of other 'officials', along with dozens of media crews, including a team from the Channel Nine Today show who thought a live broadcast from the cyclone-smashed town might be a good idea.
Former Defence Force chief General Peter Cosgrove liked Innisfail so much when he visited, he decided to stay. Well, that's not quite true, he's heading up the recovery team and thought it would be best if he was close by at all times. The locals don't seem to mind that he's stayed, but they're getting weary of all the others popping in, with media in tow, to "share the pain".
Turning up without media crews might have made some of these visits seem a bit more genuine, or if the officials had stayed around a bit longer. Howard, Beazley and the GG could only spare a few hours, and they ditched their Canberra fine-threaded suits for a more 'rural look'.
Beattie still comes back most days, and Cosgrove, of course, is now a temporary resident.