‘Wall was blown out by the force of the water’: Alan Jones
THE DEATH of a young girl is among tragedies broadcaster Alan Jones says motivated him to take up the cause of Grantham flood victims.
Mr Jones arrived at Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday to defend claims he defamed members of the Wagner family.
Four of the Toowoomba brothers are suing Mr Jones and others for as much as $4.8million.
"What has inspired me to keep going is, I have this tragic, it's almost impossible to talk about this, this tragic encounter," Mr Jones told the court.
One-year-old girl Jessica Keep was a victim of the 2011 inland tsunami.
Her parents were Matthew and Stacey Keep.
"They heard this wall of water. They didn't know what to do," Mr Jones told the court.
"They had three children, and Stacey was pregnant, so they put the two boys on the kitchen table, and the door was blown in by the force of the water.
"And the wall was blown out by the force of the water…The water was so powerful, Jessica was swept away…".
A visibly upset Mr Jones appeared to have trouble finishing the story.
Mr Jones, giving evidence in the trial's third week, also said the Wagners had "inflamed" locals after the flood.
The Wagners have said Mr Jones's broadcasts contained "imputations" wrongly suggesting they were to blame for the deaths of 12 people, or the flood when a quarry wall or levee breached or collapsed.
Mr Jones said the Wagners repeatedly and falsely claimed the quarry "bund" was a natural formation.
"The primary metaphor [is] people have no voice," Mr Jones told the defamation trial.
He equated the challenges at Grantham with struggles over the New Acland mine, wind farms in Victoria, and the battle for Aboriginal economic independence in North QLD.
"Often things which appear regional are matters which have a very significant national interest," the broadcaster said.
Mr Jones also said a listener, Marty Warburton, called him after the deluge.
"He was of the view this wasn't a flood [but] a consequence of there being a bund which had built up around the quarry."
The broadcaster said other locals and flood eyewitnesses backed up Mr Warburton's story.
"These people have no answers. In the first commission…there was a 653-page report [but] one and a half pages dedicated to Grantham."
He said Justice Catherine Holmes was not given enough time for the Queensland Floods Commission.
Mr Jones said he also spoke to flood victims and local politicians in the Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley about the flood's impact on people.
"They were frightened to speak, and they were encouraged by the fact that I was," Mr Jones told the court.
"It seemed impossible to believe that 12 people lost their lives in six homes and we still didn't know how."
He said what locals found "most hurtful" was that they'd "lost the right" to be believed.
The judge-alone trial continues.