Sunday, December 08, 2019

When Green/Left dam-hatred killed dozens of people and caused billions of dollars of flood damage

Brisbane has a history of occasional big floods so a few decades ago, the conservative-led Queensland State government built a big flood-control dam at Wivenhoe that should have ended the floods.  It was completed in 1985 and even before it was finished, in 1983, it did stop a potentially disastrous flood.

But in 2011 a flood as big as any hit Brisbane.  Why?  A court has just adjudicated that.  They found that the Wivenhoe dam was mismanaged -- as it undoubtedly was.  They blamed only the dam managers, however, without looking into the deeper background of what happened.

The court decision is something of a vindication for me personally.  I said from the beginning that Brisbane's big Wivenhoe flood control dam would have protected us perfectly well if it had been properly used.  The court has found that it was not properly used. The dam engineers were indeed at fault.  They were very arrogant in fact.  They ignored warnings from experienced people who could see what was coming.  They thought they knew it all. So they did not start discharging until it was too late.

What the report below does not tell you is that the lameduck Bligh Labor government of the day was also grossly at fault for two reasons:

1).Had there been a competent minister in charge of the dam he could have put a rocket up the engineers and told them to start discharging.  In fact he was a Leftist featherbrain who knew nothing and did nothing.  He was a waste of breath

2).  The Bligh government had also compromised the dam for Greenie reasons.  Because of recent water shortages and drought fears at the time, there was a need to build more dams. But a Green/Left government cannot do that.  So they decided instead to use the flood compartment of Wivenhoe for water storage, thus risking exactly what happened.

So the conservative Bjelke-Peterson government had built us a massive protective asset in the form of the Wivenhoe dam but even that could not save us from human negligence.  The dam would have protected us had either the engineers or the government behaved responsibly.  Sadly, neither did

It is perhaps fitting that a Labor government now has to pick up the pieces for a folly by a previous Labor government

As flood victims celebrated after years pursuing a complicated class-action suit against the government and its water management agencies, the financial implications of the NSW Supreme Court decision to uphold their claim were still being assessed.

Supreme Court judge Robert Beech-Jones found the operation of Wivenhoe Dam was negligent in the lead-up to the deluge, with dam operators failing to take into account rainfall forecasts in the days leading up the flood. This failure contributed to the downstream flooding of parts of Ipswich and Brisbane.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander demanded Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk apologise for the “incompetence” of the Bligh government — in which she was a minister — and explain how her cash-strapped administration would pay for the compensation.

“The Labor government was responsible for the management of Wivenhoe Dam during the 2011 floods and they blew it,” Mr ­Mander said. “Labor’s incompetence has put lives at risk and ruined thousands of homes and businesses.”

The only official response from the government yesterday was a short statement by Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath saying it acknowledged the court’s decision. “The government will closely examine the judgment before making any comment on a possible appeal,” Ms D’Ath said.

Pine Mountain Nursery manager John Craigie, whose investigations were crucial to the spotlight being shone on the role the operators of the dam played in contributing to the magnitude of the flood, described the decision as bittersweet. Mr Craigie — denied an appearance at the year-long royal commission-style inquiry into the floods run by now Queensland Chief Justice Catherine Holmes — forced a reopening of public hearings and rewriting of its findings that initiated the class action.

Mr Craigie said it was the discovery of the documents and collaboration with The Australian’s Hedley Thomas and retired chemical engineer Mick O’Brien that laid the groundwork for the class-action win. “Had I not done the research that opened the way for a reopening of the flood inquiry there probably would not have been sufficient evidence to initiate a class action,’’ he said.

The decision is a victory for the more than 6800 claimants who sued the Queensland government, and dam managers SEQwater and SunWater over the scale of the ­disaster. Justice Beech-Jones accepted engineers tasked with managing Wivenhoe and Somerset dams in the lead-up to and during a “biblical” deluge in January 2011 failed in their duty of care. He said they did not follow the dam operating manual that they themselves had helped write.

No cost decision has been made, with the case to return to court in February for a costs hearing.

The decision follows the findings by the Floods Commission of Inquiry that Wivenhoe Dam had been operated in breach of its operational manual.

The inquiry found that the dam operators had failed to use rainfall forecasts in making decisions about dam operating strategies.

The status of an estimated $1.5bn in insurance payments distributed to victims since the flood is also unclear, with Insurance Council of Australia spokesman Campbell Fuller saying insurers “will review today’s decision for its commercial implications”.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said while SunWater and SEQwater did have legal liability insurance that could cover the compensation, it could be capped to a certain monetary value.

But Mr Potts said the state government was effectively self-insured and did not take out external insurance because it was such a large entity. He said it was likely the government would have to fund any compensation through its cash reserves, borrowing more money, creating a new levy, or increasing various taxes.

Mr Potts said defeated ­parties would consider whether there were grounds to appeal. “No doubt all of the parties will consider whether there’s been any error in the judgment or evidence which has been excluded that should have been included; they effectively have 28 days to appeal to the NSW Court of Appeal,” he said.

There were tears from some victims as the ruling was delivered, almost nine years after a disaster that devastated so many families.

Goodna retiree Frank Beaumont, 77, mulled over the years of distress he suffered after his home went under. “The mental stress has been horrendous,” Mr Beaumont said in Ipswich. “We’ve had so many trodden-down moments where the insurance didn’t pay, being kicked out of a rental home and then having to rebuild an absolutely devastated house.”

After Maurice Blackburn lawyers get paid, and their litigation funders, IMF Bentham and Innsworth, take their share of the damages payout, the rest will be shared between the class-action claimants. It is unlikely to be equal, with compensation to be based on the level of damage and financial loss.

The class action was filed by Maurice Blackburn in July 2014, with the trial starting in the Supreme Court of NSW in December 2017 and running for nearly 18 months. The litigation had to be filed interstate because, at the time, class actions could not be filed in Queensland.


‘You deserve to be honoured’: Pauline Hanson pays tribute to Australian men

Pauline Hanson has paid tribute to “the everyday men of Australia”, thanking them for “working hard” and blasting feminists, saying they should “be ashamed of themselves”.

In an extraordinary five-minute speech yesterday, the One Nation leader addressed an almost empty Senate to “pay homage to the majority of men in Australia”.

“It’s not often that the dedicated and hardworking men of this country collectively get a pat on the back, as they deserve, so I’d like to do that now,” Senator Hanson said.

“Well done, men. You deserve to be honoured. I thank you.

“It is more often that we lift up women in this country. Men are widely regarded as toxic. That is wrong. The extreme majority of men are not toxic. They are good, they are caring.”

Senator Hanson said she was prompted to make the speech while Australia is in the grips of one of its worst bushfire seasons on record.

More than 680 homes have been destroyed in NSW this bushfire season, according to the Rural Fire Service while fires also rage in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.

“While the firefighters, who are mostly male, were battling the blazes we had feminists telling us that after they fight the fires, no doubt exhausted, covered in sweat, ash and soot, and with their skin singed from the heat, they go home and beat their partners,” she said.

“What an idiotic suggestion.”

Senator Hanson was referring to a since-deleted tweet from journalist and Red Heart Campaign founder Sherele Moody, who claimed domestic violence spiked after “cataclysmic events”.

“I’ve also made it clear that I have had a gutful of hearing from man-hating feminists,” Senator Hanson told parliament.

“I believe in what is fair and just and I am sick and tired of this constant criticism of men in Australia, especially if they’re white.

“Why is there such an ongoing attack on the men of this country, especially those who show strength and masculinity.

“Well, I’m not going to man-bash. There is no reason to do it. The vast majority of men are not toxic. They are loving, caring, respectful and hardworking and it’s mostly men who step up and face the flames, extreme heat … to fight the bushfires.”

Senator Hanson went on to quote percentages from the Australian Bureau of Statistics about the number of women who were firefighters, truckies and coal miners.

“Feminists should be ashamed at themselves for letting themselves down in this field,” she said.

“I’ve never seen a feminist recruiting campaign to get more women behind the wheels of a truck.

“Maybe it’s too demanding, not glamorous enough, so they’re happy for the men to do it.

“I’d like to say thank you to men. You help make Australia the great nation it is today and to my colleagues in the chamber, thank you very much you make it very interesting.”

Senator Hanson’s video has received dozens of comments praising the One Nation leader.

“Great speech, Pauline. You’re one of the few politicians who recognise the work of ordinary men who struggle through life supporting their families and community,” Steve Smith said.

“Brilliant speech, it’s a pity not many of your fellow senators were there to listen to you; that is disgraceful in itself. Man bashing is just another weapon of the left that needs to be called out and you have done so, bravo,” Les Baxter added.


Co-ed vs  ‘education apartheid’

Many progressive advocates would welcome single-sex schools becoming extinct as alleged “educational apartheid.”

Nevertheless, Australia has a long tradition of high-achieving single-sex schools, in both the government and non-government sectors, and many parents still choose this option.

Proponents argue single-sex schools “…increase student confidence, provide a safe place for student to develop their identities and could be the answer to the gender gap in academic performance.”

It’s not a big deal for most Australian parents. Our recent research found a school being single-sex or co-educational was in the top two factors for just 5% of parents when choosing a school — but for some parents, it is a deal-breaker.

There is evidence students achieve better results in single-sex schools. Analysis of NAPLAN data by the Australian Council for Educational Research indicates girls’ schools and boys’ schools perform better on average in both literacy and numeracy than co-ed schools, even after taking into account student socioeconomic background (this particular analysis was a classic of the ‘we don’t like the results, so let’s not tell anyone until halfway through’ academic genre).

Overseas, some research has shown single-sex schools have significant positive effects on science and maths results for boys but not for girls, while other studies have found precisely the opposite (girls benefit but boys don’t), and other research suggests there is no significant effect for either boys or girls. OECD research suggests that in some countries there is a difference and in others there isn’t.

So the relationship between single-sex schooling and academic achievement isn’t entirely clear. But there isn’t any evidence that co-ed schools have non-academic benefits, such as better socialisation or preparation for post-school life.

Given the disagreement, the solution is more school choice, not less. Parents are in the best position to decide what is best for their child, and ideally should have single-sex and co-ed options across school sectors.

We don’t want to turn single-sex schooling into another culture war. Let parents make up their own minds.


Gender scorecard failure

Victoria’s champions of workplace ‘gender equality’ have decided the best way to achieve their goals is to threaten employers with legal action.

The Andrews Government want public sector bosses who breach — currently undefined — ‘gender equality targets’ to face punishment that could see them in court for the alleged pervasive “sexism” in the Victorian Public Service.

But this concern is not confined to the ‘woke’ Victorians.  The Workplace Gender Equality Agency has recently released a seemingly impressive, but ultimately vacuous report.

Australia’s ‘gender equality scorecard’  — a measure of female workforce participation, pay, and representation in leadership roles — shows that women are advancing in the workplace.

Even the gender pay-gap — the comparison of average full time earnings for men and women — is getting smaller, However, this yardstick is meaningless because as even WGEA admits in their fine print, it does not measure like-for-like jobs.

But, apparently this progress isn’t good enough.

The Director of WGEA Libby Lyons is “disappointed.” The pace of change is apparently too slow and “We need systematic change at every single level of every single organisation.”

Victoria looks like it has already begun work on a full revolutionary gender equality manifesto, but Lyons and the ABC have also brainstormed some ideas.

They have suggested that superannuation companies and shareholders could threaten to take their money elsewhere if companies fail to boost the number of female CEOs or board members.

Financially coercing companies might seem extreme. But when you think women are consciously and unconsciously biased against at every turn in the workplace, and that meritocracy is a myth, using financial leverage to advance your agenda seems mild.

In fact, coercion already seems to be in the WGEA’s DNA.

The data collected for the ‘scorecard’ is not voluntarily offered. Non-public sector employers with over 100 employees are required to hand over a raft of data to the WGEA — non-compliance can result in the loss of government tenders or grants.

So, the WGEA already appear very comfortable for companies who do not comply with their demands to lose opportunities and money.

But what further demands will be made to ensure the ‘systematic change’ apparently required?

It is fair to ask whether the WGEA has an end goal in mind. Their mission is to ensure ‘gender equality.’ But does that mean every workplace — at every level — has to be 50/50 men and women?

Perhaps, more importantly, what further penalties are they willing to introduce to achieve ‘gender equality’?


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

Labor in Victoria has an unparalleled history of disguising taxation under a cloak of legal penalties.