March 19

Prince William immediately leaves Townsville RAAF base in Black Hawk helicopter

Prince William has started a three-day tour of Australia's flood and cyclone ravaged regions. The report below was broadcast on the national 24 hour TV news service, Sky News.

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The Prince arrived in Townsville's RAAF base around 11am (AEST) but was only on the ground long enough to shake a few hands before setting off for the Cassowary Coast town of Cardwell which was devastated by Cyclone Yasi in February.

…to duty immediately…

After a short safety briefing he boarded a Black Hawk helicopter with Premier Bligh and Maj Gen Slater.

Townsville Mayor Les Tyrell said it was an honour to meet the future King.

'I welcomed him on behalf of the people of Townsville and he said 'it's good to be here',' he told AAP.

'You don't often get to shake hands with royalty.'

He said the Prince's visit would raise spirits in the Cassowary Coast towns which bore the brunt of Yasi's fury.

'I think it will be a very positive thing for people, particularly those in Tully and Cardwell,' he said.

'Nothing has gone right for them so if this brings them a bit of joy and delight for a couple of hours it's done its job.'

The Prince will  go to flood-damaged communities in southeast Queensland on Sunday and northwestern Victoria on Monday.

….Premier envisages boost to tourism…

Ms Bligh has said she hopes the royal visit will boost her state's struggling tourism industry.

'I hope he sends the message back to his friends and colleagues in the UK that Queensland is open for business, and that while he's here he gets an opportunity to see that for himself,' she said before his visit.

The visit  follows a two-day tour of New Zealand, where the Prince attended the national memorial service in Christchurch.

 


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