Dam operator to defend its role in 2011 Brisbane flood catastrophe
This whole affair was a disgrace to the Queensland Labor government of Anna Bligh and her bureaucrats. Anna was basically an emptyhead and the bureaucrats thought they could do no wrong.
A Conservative government had built a big flood-control dam at Wivenhoe that should have ended Brisbane floods for good. But it was not proof against opportunistic politicians and inert bureaucrats.
To avoid building a new dam, the "Green" Labor government proceeded to use the flood compartment of the dam to store water. Then the bureaucrats managing the dam just stuck to their regulations and saw no need to do anything when the floodwater came surging into the dam. They ignored all approaches to open the floodgates until it was too late and flood it did.
People died in the resultant flood, to say nothing of property damage and loss
In the circumstances, it is no wonder that the insurers are denying liability. They did not ensure against irresponsible politicians or brainless bureaucrats. They will no doubt claim that the dam operators followed the book so are not liable.
The plaintiffs need to show that following the book was irresponsible when the whole of the flood compartment was not available
THOUSANDS of victims of the 2011 Queensland floods face losing compensation payouts after state-owned dam operator Seqwater confirmed it will appeal a landmark class action result. The confirmation comes a week ahead of a deadline for parties to seek leave to appeal to the NSW Supreme Court.
The Queensland Government has ruled out an appeal but as The Courier-Mail revealed in December, both Seqwater and Sunwater were planning to appeal. Sunwater has not yet confirmed whether it will go ahead with its appeal. Seqwater chief executive Neil Brennan said the decision to appeal had been taken after advice from its insurers.
"The decision to appeal has not been taken lightly," Mr Brennan said in a written statement. "It has followed an extensive review of the judgment and consultation with its insurers."
Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham hit out at Seqwater's decision. "I am disappointed that Seqwater's insurers did not heed our call not to appeal," Dr Lynham said. "As the Treasurer and I said at the time, if a Ministerial Direction could be given to Seqwater to not appeal, it would not bind their insurers. Further, it may compromise Seqwater's insurance policies."
But Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the Government could have prevented the appeal. "(Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk had the power to direct these government-owned corporations to not undertake this cruel action, but she failed to act," she said. "Seqwater will now slug taxpayers to defend itself in Court"
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal lawyer Rebecca Gilsenan, who is representing the victims, also called for the state to step in. "These appeals and disputes mean real justice is a long way off for our clients, who have won their case and deserve to be paid for what they lost when the dam operators flooded them," she said.
"The only way to bring this to an end is for the state to step in with a whole-of-government approach."
Former Ipswich councillor Paul Tully, whose Goodna home was flooded in 2011, said the move would add to the distress of flood victims. "Flood victims have endured nine long and tortuous years," he said. "This could drag out another two years in the court of appeal and the High Court of Australia. "These insurance companies are toying with people's lives and futures."
From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 22/2/20