Craig Warhurst

A leading flood role

THE Gympie Region’s extensive experience with flooding has given it a potentially leading role in helping Queensland communities deal with the risk and occasional reality of disaster.

Disaster warning and response mechanisms are currently the subject of a plethora of inquiries and conferences, including the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry, which released an interim report yesterday.

Although much of the interim report deals with Brisbane issues, it gives prominence to disaster preparation and action plans similar to those developed over time in regularly flood-prone areas of the Gympie Region.

With Gympie hearings still to be held, recommendations so far include adoption throughout the state of Gympie procedures, including placing details of flood management plans on council websites.

Related issues were also the subject of a Local Government Association of Queensland conference last week, attended by Gympie Region Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett.

THE draft flood inquiry report released yesterday further illustrated the folly of claimed flood mitigation benefits from the Traveston Crossing dam proposal, Gympie MP David Gibson said yesterday.

Mr Gibson said the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry interim report raised questions about the operation of dams for flood mitigation.

“Clearly we dodged a bullet once Traveston was scrapped because under Labor’s management of Wivenhoe Dam the impact of any flood could have been worse,” he said.

Mr Gibson said the flood inquiry would hold hearings in Gympie on October 13, where more detailed issues for our region would be covered.

Council and State Government planning schemes are also under the microscope with government-mandated regional plans restricting even flood-free development in parts of the Gympie region, while forcing major population growth in flood-prone areas of the Sunshine Coast Region, immediately to the south.

And, six months after Cyclone Yasi and the floods which together left almost all of Queensland a declared disaster zone, Queensland businesses are being surveyed on their recovery needs by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland.

Premier Anna Bligh said yesterday about 60% of Queenslanders and 70% of the state’s land area were flood affected.

“We must ensure we learn the lessons of this disaster so that we can protect future generations,” she said.

Ms Bligh said the interim report makes 175 recommendations, 104 of which apply to the state government, 65 to local governments and six to the commonwealth.

“We will pull out all stops to ensure every one of the recommendations for the Queensland Government is implemented and I will make this my responsibility,” she said.

“I will establish a dedicated unit within the Department of Premier and Cabinet to co-ordinate the response across a number of government agencies.”

The inquiry has so far received more than 660 public submissions and heard from 167 witnesses.

Ms Bligh in part referred specifically to local government issues, including Gympie-style evacuation planning.

Gympie Times

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