Survivors reject Queensland flood inquiry

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Survivors reject Queensland flood inquiry

Updated March 17, 2012 11:16:47

Survivors of the devastating Lockyer Valley flood have rejected the findings of the Queensland floods inquiry, calling for a new investigation into last year’s disaster.

The report includes more than six million pages of evidence, 345 witnesses and more than 170 recommendations, with some of the most serious findings relating to the operation of Brisbane’s Wivenhoe Dam.

But residents in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, say it raises more questions than it answers.

Gerry Keoh worked with many of the residents during the recovery period and says they are frustrated by the report.

Mr Keoh says the report did not address key questions such as why residents were not warned before flash floods tore through areas in south-east Queensland.

He says residents feel like they have been forgotten.

“We now need a full commission of inquiry with all the powers of a royal commission because of the lives that have been lost,” he said.

“Why weren’t they warned? Why weren’t the people of Murphys Creek and Grantham and the Lockyer Valley not warned two hours before? These questions need to be answered.”

Commissioner Cate Holmes said the local and state governments provided a prompt response to the floods.

But the State Government may still face a class action after the report found Wivenhoe Dam’s operation manual was breached.

Three of the dam’s engineers will be investigated by the Crime and Conduct Commission over misleading reports and testimony about the floods.

There is also a suggestion of collusion between them.

Recommendations welcomed

Both the Labor leader Anna Bligh and LNP leader Campbell Newman say they will implement the reports findings in full, as does Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.

The report found Ms Bligh did not appear to be aware of discrepancies between different account of the strategies employed to manage Wivenhoe Dam.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia says it welcomes a recommendation for property contracts to include a statement of flood risk.

The inquiry suggests sales could even be made conditional on flood evaluations, like building and pest inspections.

The institute’s president Brian Stuart has told Saturday AM it is a sensible precaution.

“I don’t see any difficulty with it. We live in an age where now twice in our lifetime we have seen major flooding in the Brisbane River and undoubtedly, as everyone’s been saying, this will happen again,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Resources Council says it supports a recommendation to allow pre-emptive water releases from mines during high rainfall events.

The report’s outlined 19 recommendations for the mines industry, including for the State Government to amend the Environmental Protection Act.

Several mines in central Queensland were washed out for months during last summer’s natural disaster.

Chief executive Michael Roche says the laws must be improved to help mines prepare for a wet season.

“I think it’s quite significant that the commission has recommended consideration of amendments to legislation to allow either pre-emptive mine water discharges in advance of a forecast of a major rainfall event, or a blanket release of water after such a major event,” he said.

Insurance hikes

A central Queensland Mayor says hikes in insurance premiums needs to be investigated.

Several recommendations were made for the insurance industry, mainly involving communication issues with policy holders.

Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter says he is concerned some company’s insurance premiums on urban properties have doubled.

“Whether you were or weren’t in a flood zone area, that escalation by insurance companies to cover the costs of flooding in the disaster events of 2011 is a major concern,” he said.

“Everybody throughout the state of Queensland or the country of Australia needs to be very concerned about [this].”

Recommendations in full

Read the Queensland Floods Commission’s final report in full, or read its recommendations

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