ABC News: Queensland flood victims win class action against state, Seqwater and Sunwater over dam negligence
In January 2011, a record La Nina was in play known to cause higher rainfall in Australia, then flooding rains were forecast, yet the main dam holding water above Brisbane wasn’t releasing water and getting ready to be the flood buffer it was supposed to be. (It was almost as if climate scientists had advised them that the droughts would never end?). When the emergency releases came, it was too much, too late, and a bad flood became a devastating one. How much did the politically correct culture of the day cloud minds and lay the groundwork for a crisis, and how much was just mismanagement?
Skeptics saw this Class Action result coming in January 2011 (particularly Ian Mott, and Treeman writing here). Finally, nine years later, some victims will get compensation.
Blogs got the gist right in a week, the experts, government and legal machine took nine years.
Hedley Thomas at The Australian was instrumental in drawing attention to the disastrous dam management:
At a policy level, it was a perfect storm. The Queensland government-owned dam’s operators, or engineers, were at its epicentre. There was growing hysteria before January 2011 because bureaucrats and politicians had heeded the alarmist predictions of climate warriors that floods were unlikely to trouble Australia in future. Tim Flannery’s dire warning that “even the rain that falls isn’t going to fill our dams and river systems” was followed by a drought that blighted Queensland.
The best journalists don’t get treated like heroes, they get called names:
For contradicting the official line being peddled across the media, we [Hedley Thomas and engineer John Craigie and Mick O’Brien] were ostracized and branded conspiracy theorists.
O’Brien’s qualifications as a highly experienced chemical engineer were lampooned — engineers in dam management wanted him disciplined for having the temerity to investigate their colleagues and question their conduct. Craigie grows exotic plants — his critics scoffed: “What would he know?”
Hundreds of millions of dollars and many reputations were at stake. The truth wins in the end, but with literally trillions at stake in the climate debate, how many years will it take to overcome the same namecalling, fogging whitewash reports and system inertia.
Maybe the dam managers had their eye on the wrong ball — distracted by imaginary catastrophes that never came:
The Australian: Justice Beech-Jones agreed that engineers negligently managed the dams and that they did not factor in extraordinary rainfall forecasts in deciding how best to respond to the flood event. That was despite them being obliged, under the dam manual, to do so. He found that during days of heavy rain, before the peak of the flood on January 11, dam engineers prioritised keeping downstream bridges open over trying to limit flooding in urban areas.
. This is all very much SEQ Water’s work. They all took the weekend off and watched a 1 in 120 year flood event turn a simple task into a crisis they couldn’t deal with by Monday afternoon. All the folks who’s homes and businesses didn’t go under until Wednesday can rest assured that, despite their policies, they are actually fully insured, courtesy of the SEQ Water public liability policy. And if they SEQ Water doesn’t have a policy then the rate payers of the major shareholders, the State Government, Brisbane City Council, Ipswich Council and a number of others who are not anywhere near the flood zone, will eventually foot the entire bill. The meter is already ticking on the class action.
Commenter Robuk at the time:
It appears that your government have stopped development near the coast because of the non existent sea level rise but allowed development within a flood plain.
h/t Eliza, Peter D.