Saturday, 2 February 2013

Learn and construct to cope with future natural disasters

As the flood waters started to ease and a stocktake started on the damage caused by ex-cyclone Oswell that travelled down near the entire length of the Queensland coastline and well into New South Wales, two regular print columnists published articles on the 31st January calling a visionary and practical approach of looking to how we can reduce the impact of natural disasters in the future.

Andrew Bolt wrote an article, Nation must learn from natural disasters, where he concentrates on towns and cities that flood regularly, where a lot of money is spent of repairing after a flood and helping people to get back on their feet but little spend on prevention measures such as levy banks.

Personally I don’t believe that all can be solved by levies or dykes as in Bolts nation of origin, Holland. Historically towns had to build down close to a major source of water; these days we have the means of moving the water to the houses. I don’t believe that in locations of high flood risk that sometimes the cost of constructing a big enough levies for the worst of floods would be far greater than shifting the people out of the worst impacted streets.

Senator Barnaby Joyce wrote in his weekly column in The Canberra Times, Acts ofGod, but not much remedial action in Parliament, where he made some very good points about Australia’s transport and communication networks and their current inability to cope with natural disasters.

Cartoon thanks to Broelmann
"The major infrastructure corridors along the coast are again under pressure or cut. The Telstra fibre providing the communication link for north Queensland was cut because of flooding.

The justifiable focus on the current problem of flooding should be accompanied by a long-term solution to alleviate some of the problem. 

The course of innovation is not lineal, it is more chaotic, but in the period of this government there has been no plan that has dealt with the year-in, year-out problems of floods, congestion and safety of moving goods along the same corridor as people, along the coast. It should not be a surprise any more that somewhere between Cairns and Melbourne at some point in summer there will be a flood, and generally at many points along the coast.
We need an educational system that does not leave Australia falling behind our Asian neighbours. More than two sealed roads from east to west across our nation would be very 21st century if we could manage it. We should plan to develop our nation's north so we evolve from the southern crescent economy of Lachlan Macquarie's day to one that can make the most of Asian middle class opportunities. The capacity to move product on long haul rail from our second biggest city, Melbourne, direct to our nation's third biggest, Brisbane, should have happened years ago"


  1. Viv Forbes has submitted this letter

    Time to Build Better Infrastructure.

    Floods, fires, cyclones and drought are ever-present features of the Australian landscape and have been here far longer than cars, cattle, coal miners and timber getters.

    Yet every time we have a natural disaster, we find government infrastructure washed away, burnt down, blown apart or lacking water. Meanwhile billions of dollars of community savings are wasted on vain attempts to cool the climate of the next century.

    This surely is the year to stop wasting money on climate-change follies in order to allow more spending on real present-day problems like disaster-proofing government controlled infrastructure and land.

    Two policy changes are needed.

    First, stop all federal, state and local government spending or legislative support for climate commissions and bureaucracies, UN-Kyoto junkets, carbon sequestration, green energy, biofuels, carbon taxing and accounting, global warming research and climate change foreign aid. In short, abolish every department, position or budget with “climate”, “warming” or “carbon” in its name or description.

    Second, re-build government infrastructure and manage government lands to standards that can better withstand the inevitable floods, fires, cyclones and droughts.

  2. Qld Premier Campbell Newman is being reported in today's press that homes and infrastructure shouldn't just be rebuilt where it is with no thought of the same event occurring in the future but if necessary homes & infrastructure may have to be relocated.
    From the Courier Mail, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman calls for an end to rebuild roundabout
    "Mr Newman has maintained his push to have Queensland rebuilt to a "flood-proof" standard, even if it means relocating roads and property.
    He expressed concern the NDRRA mainly funded "like for like" projects, meaning flood-prone roads and other infrastructure continued to be rebuilt in the same location.
    Yesterday the Premier admitted the NDRRA did not really allow for his vision for "betterment".
    "While there are some guidelines to allow that to occur, it's not really been a feature of the program so we've got to change that," Mr Newman said.
    "Doing the same thing, the same wrong thing time and time again, is the definition of insanity."
    NDRRA funding is split between federal (75 per cent) and state governments (25 per cent).
    Mr Newman admitted dumping "like-for-like" restrictions would be more expensive but said "they're going to save money in the long term"."

  3. The thrust of the above seems pretty good to me. Too much of australia is built on flood plains, buildings and infrastructure, and who knows when the next deluge will hit?

    We have to bite the bullet and relocate out of flood zones. As the post above states, and the citizens of new orleans found out in spades, dykes and levies aren't the on-going solution for Oz. It is not current landowners' fault that our ancestors built on flood plains to be near water for life and transport, but this is C21. I know it will cost a bundle plus to help people - whole communities and businesses - to move, but sooner or later we will all have to bite the bullet. Just look at those sad, drained faces of the residents of North Bundy :-( Or those who have been through shocking bushfires ......
    Cheers al

  4. Grantham home relocation saved 'tens of millions'
    "Shifting 100 Grantham residents to higher ground after the 2011 floods is believed to have reduced the damage bill from the latest deluge by "tens of millions" of dollars.

    Now Grantham’s ‘‘land swap’’ families want their good luck to be offered to the people of Bundaberg.

    In May 2011 under an Australia-first plan dubbed the Strengthening Grantham project, residents from Grantham and nearby towns were offered properties on a piece of land high over Grantham in exchange for their low-lying, flood-ruined homes."


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