Saturday, January 15, 2011


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks Gillard's response to the Qld. flood contrasted bady with the Queensland Premier's response.

Bureaucratic bungling behind the Brisbane flood?

How SEQ Water failed “Flood Mitigation 101”. Brisbane's huge flood mitigation dam (Wivenhoe) appears to have been negligently operated

by Ian Mott

On the morning of 12th January, the day before the flood peak that inundated the Brisbane CBD and much of Ipswich, Brian Williams of Brisbane’s Courier Mail, in a masterpiece of misreporting by omission, reported that releases from Wivenhoe Dam were to be reduced from an overnight peak of 645,000 megalitres/day to 205,000 ML/day with the stated aim of “allowing the Bremer River and Lockyer River to subside, thereby easing floods on Brisbane downstream.”

“Wivenhoe Dam levels had dropped just 1 per cent from the previous night, reflecting the massive volumes of water flowing into the storage from its 7020 km2 catchment.” That 1% drop was from a dam capacity of 191% and is an oblique way of saying that the massive flood surge buffer had been pushed close to its limits and they now had no choice but to dump the same amount of water that was flowing into the dam.

What wasn’t mentioned was the fact that for more than a week prior to this large release, only 170,000 ML/day was being released as the storage capacity was allowed to rise to 191% from two weeks of heavy rains. And this meant the carefully designed flood buffer, having been taken to its limits, could no longer function as a buffer. The city was entirely at the mercy of the elements and it would only have taken another 37mm of rain in the catchment to hit the limits.

And as it takes 36 hours for water to flow from Wivenhoe to the CBD then it is absolutely clear that the flood peak of Wednesday night and Thursday morning was a direct result of the previous night’s forced release of the total inflow from the catchment. And this was only necessary because SEQ Water had spent two weeks releasing much less water than was being captured, into a river that was still well below minor flood level.

The article went on to report that releases would go back up to 301,000 ML/day in a few days to reduce the flood buffer volume and that this level of release was, “unlikely to cause a second significant rise in the river.”

What wasn’t mentioned in relation to the reduction from the overnight peak of 645,000 megalitres/day to 205,000 ML/day, with the stated aim of “allowing the Bremer River and Lockyer River to subside, thereby easing floods on Brisbane downstream,” was the fact that the earlier large forced release did the direct opposite. It prevented the Bremer and Lockyer Rivers from subsiding and exacerbated the flooding of Brisbane downstream.

By reducing releases to only 205,000 ML/Day after the peak discharge, SEQ Water is essentially admitting that the peak discharge impaired the flow from the Bremer and Lockyer Rivers by about 100,000 ML/day over that 36 hour period, which they then had to remedy with a lower Wivenhoe release.

At this point you might ask, “so why didn’t they release 300,000ML/day before the buffer was fully extended?” If they had done so there would not have been any need for a larger forced release at all.

Limited Wivenhoe releases on Monday and Tuesday were justified because the flash flooding in the Bremmer and Lockyer Valleys needed somewhere to go. But that doesn’t explain the low releases right through the previous week to Sunday the 9th January. Larger pre-releases in the order of 300,000 ML/day would have maintained sufficient buffer to ensure that no flood peak occurred at all. The river would have kept on flowing at minor flooding level right through this period.

What sort of people, in Queensland of all places, in a strong La Nina wet season, would not start serious dam releases when they were already at capacity, with saturated catchments, in the first week of December? Surely, pre-releases would be more prudent than post-releases in such circumstances?

We need a full inquiry into why this dam managed by SEQ Water, and others managed by Sunwater, were managed in a way that actually produced the kind of flood it was designed to prevent.


Australia and New Zealand on top – but for how long?

Greg Lindsay

Australians and Kiwis have become used to it over the last few years. Each January, the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal publish their Index of Economic Freedom and each year, Australia comes third after Hong Kong and Singapore. And each year, New Zealand is not far behind, this time in fourth place, although New Zealand has been ahead of Australia in the past.

Something happening with clockwork-like repetitiveness is usually not very newsworthy. However, in this case it is well worth a thought or two.

There are of course different ways of measuring this, but it is worth celebrating that Australia and New Zealand once again lead the world’s non-city states in economic freedom. This is often consistent across various such Indexes. Though improvements are certainly conceivable, in practical terms our two countries are as good as it gets.

There is a problem though. Our consistently good scores in the Index are threatened by complacency. The more often we hear how well we have weathered the global economic crisis of the past years, the less we believe there is anything left to do to secure our future prosperity.

Sure, governments still revert to the language of ‘reform.’ But where a generation ago ‘reform’ meant tough institutional changes, the word has now become a synonym, and sometimes an excuse, for government increasing its activities. In truth, there is nothing ‘reformatory’ about digging trenches for fibre optic cables, to just name one example.

The link between a nation’s economic success and its economic freedom is firmly established. If we want to stay at the top of the list, we need to reclaim the language of reform.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 14 January, 2011. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

A letter to the Warmists from flood-hit Queensland

I am sitting here in my home in South East Queensland, watching the news come in about the flooding everywhere. Entire suburbs around Brisbane and several smaller towns are either isolated by flood-waters or have been evacuated. Highways are cut everywhere.

People have been dying. So far about 20 people have died in the past week – nine just this morning when a deluge went through the Lockyer Valley. Most of them children. Another 70 are missing. One could put it all down to “just” weather.

Except EXACTLY the same floods occurred in EXACTLY the same places back in 1974, with much the same tragic loss of life and destruction of property.

Back then we weren’t nearly as clever and learned as you think yourselves to be today. Back then we had this silly notion that climate was cyclical, and if we didn’t prepare for it, we would have a repeat of the same tragedies to deal with in “about thirty years”. That was the thinking of the scientists back then – that climate went in roughly thirty year cycles.

Flood mitigation programs were planned. A series of levee banks and diversionary dams would be built. Brisbane and SE QLD would NEVER suffer such devastation again. After all, we had thirty years to plan and build and improve.

And that’s what we did – or at least started. Wivenhoe Dam got built as the first step, but by the time it was finished clever people like you lot who “knew” that such things were never going to happen again had taken over. CO2 AGW madness had already taken hold.

Instead we had “post modern” minds like Tim Flannery “advising” the government that because of Anthropogenic Global Warming, SE QLD would be perpetually in drought from then on. “Forget dams and flood mitigation programs”, intoned the wise Dr Tim – “build desalination plants instead”.

So that’s what our government did. And that is why thirty five years later, we are once again suffering exactly the SAME tragic loss of life and destruction of property, pretty-much exactly where, and when, and how, those stupid scientists who foolishly believed climate was cyclical had predicted.

Meanwhile our billion dollar desalination plant is quietly being mothballed, and emergency crews are frantically trying to work out how they might be able to save nineteen thousand homes from destruction in the next couple of days, as the Lockyer deluge hits Brisbane. Wise Dr Tim Flannery has been made ‘Australian of the Year” for his contributions.

I google on the internet for climate extremes and climate-related disasters in the 1972 – 1979 period – the period of the last transition in the natural weather cycle, and I find that it wasn’t a good period in many places around the world. Record and near record high – and low temperatures, record and near-record precipitation, and so on. Floods and droughts pretty-much mimicking what is happening now, and in pretty-much the same places.

I also noted that the indicators of the “silly” theory of the cyclical nature , ocean and atmospheric, are pretty much exactly as they are now.

I have to admit it could all get a bit depressing. But then I remember that the world is in the capable hands of much cleverer people than those silly scientists back in the Seventies who believed climate was cyclical. Now the decisions are being made by clever people like Dr Tim Flannery

– and you.

That is when I weep for my fellow Man.


Very few working-class votes in gay marriage

Christopher Pearson

ONE of the more startling facts about contemporary politics is the way the ALP is being steadily cannibalised.

On one hand, it is bleeding a growing share of inner-city professionals to the Greens. On the other, it seems determined to vacate the field in the outer suburbs to Tony Abbott's brand of mild social conservatism.

Where once Labor's Right provided most of the party's ballast and intellectual leadership there is now almost a vacuum, the political culture that enabled the rise of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

No one now in federal cabinet seems able to project a view of the ALP's abiding values that would have been recognisable to the people who first elected the Hawke government. Labor has become, almost by default, the aggressively secularist party Lindsay Tanner wanted it to be.

The gap between the party's elected representatives and its traditional support base has been emerging as a given since the Keating era. Accordingly, Labor hardheads such as Gary Johns, Keating's special minister of state, and The Australian's editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, have often waxed eloquent about the electoral prospects of seemingly entrenched mainstream parties that stray too far from their origins.

Dennis Glover, a speechwriter for Labor leaders from Kim Beazley to Mark Latham, has a more optimistic take on matters. Writing in Thursday's edition of The Australian, he said: "In a world in which public administration has become complex and global, requiring ever higher levels of education, technical command and cultural sophistication, there is an inevitable tendency for politicians to become distanced from working-class voters.

"There is a reason why train drivers no longer become prime ministers and it's not just because Labor has supposedly been hijacked by 'the dregs of the middle class', as some of Labor's false friends often put it. Professionalism affects all parties."

It's worth noting in passing that the author of the line about Labor's capture by the dregs of the middle class was Kim Beazley Sr, who as a long-serving MHR was well-placed to make such a judgment. It also seems to me that what Glover calls professionalism could more aptly be described as the triumph of the apparatchiks.

A clear majority of ALP candidates were previously union operatives or political staffers. The same is true of a small percentage of Liberals, but on the whole the people who occupy the Coalition benches come from a much more diverse range of occupations.

Is it true, as Glover claims, that politicians with more education and sophistication will inevitably tend to become distanced from working-class voters?

It may be increasingly the case with senators elected on a party list, but for MHRs I suspect the answer is not necessarily, unless they have safe seats and can delegate most of their constituency work to staffers. The holders of marginal seats normally have a fair idea of popular sentiment in their own neck of the woods.

Again Glover takes a sunny-side-up approach, blaming the caution of parties of the Left on timidity and being misled by focus groups and talkback radio. "Too many progressive politicians have internalised the idea that the working class is a bastion of political, social, economic, cultural and environmental reaction." To put it another way: "Social-democrat parties almost invariably discount the progressiveness of their electoral base, especially their working-class base."

Why is he so confident? It turns out that Glover has been conducting a focus group of his own. "At a series of recent extended family get-togethers and school reunions I made a point of asking people's opinions about the one issue we are forever being told lies at the heart of the supposedly unbridgeable cultural divide between the conservative working class and the permissive inner-city 'elites': gay marriage."

He concedes some problems with the sample. "I'm prepared to admit they comprise a statistically meaningless collection of a little more than two dozen individuals between the ages of 40 and 75, gathered mostly from the outer suburbs of Melbourne."

However, he argues: "Because I know these people, their families, the schools they went to and the influences that formed them, I know also that they represent the heart of post-war working-class Australia."

In the unlikely event that nervous members in marginal seats are carried away by this sort of rhetoric, let me sound a note of caution. As a homosexual member of the baby-boomer generation with a working-class father and a middle-class mother, I've out of necessity made a lifetime's study of Australian attitudes on this and related questions.

In my experience, prior to the late 1970s men of all classes were markedly more inclined to adopt a live and let live attitude than women, especially if they'd served in the war or done national service. What would at the time have been called respectable working-class people of both sexes were generally more disposed to stern judgment than their middle-class counterparts until well into the 90s. An at-least-notionally relaxed attitude was a marker of upward mobility from the mid-60s and a default position for most university graduates from the 80s.

As I see it, what lie at the heart of post-war working-class Australia are extended family and tribal bonds of attachment. Anything that's likely to impinge adversely on family life, in the way coming out openly as a homosexual so often does, is apt to be perceived as a threat.

Then there are all the households of every social class where religion plays even a residual part. I doubt that Glover or most of the self-styled progressives could imagine what the sacrament of marriage means to them and the strength of their opposition to same-sex weddings.

It is worth spelling out that none of the mainstream churches sanctions homophobic behaviour - not even the Sydney Anglicans - these days. That doesn't mean that they don't or shouldn't take a hard line on homosexual activity. They mostly do.

Only one of Glover's focus group of 25 said he was opposed to gay marriage and that it wouldn't influence his vote because "he had bigger concerns".

Glover says the rest of his friends, and especially the women, "instinctively grasped that gay marriage is about justice . . . This shouldn't surprise us, because people such as Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John have made gay equality a given."

I give working-class Australians far more credit than that. They didn't need foreign television stars and singers to teach them about equality in the first place and most of them will rely on far more discerning judges when the pros and cons of gay marriage are debated.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"In a world in which public administration has become complex and global, requiring ever higher levels of education, technical command and cultural sophistication, there is an inevitable tendency for politicians to become distanced from working-class voters"

Political Leftist elitism at its finest. Except where are all these super-powered politico-intellectual titans?