The Commission of Inquiry has conducted hearings during the months of September and October which have followed on from the August Commission Enquiry into to 2010/2011 Queensland floods. Its interim report provides 175 recommendations focused on changes to be implemented before the next wet season.
More than 660 written public submissions were received and sworn statements obtained from emergency personnel, employees of relevant corporations and government agencies, and representatives of local and state government.
Evidence was heard from 167 witnesses at the commission’s first round of public hearings held over 31 days in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Dalby, Goondiwindi, St George, Ipswich, Rockhampton and Emerald.
Public meetings were also held in 13 locations in central and western Queensland, and the Lockyer Valley.
The Queensland Government accepted the findings of the commission of inquiry and 104 recommendations applying to the state government will be fast-tracked including an investigation into raising the Wivenhoe Dam wall to increase the flood mitigation buffer.
Other key initiatives already underway include:
- establishment of a new Flood Operation Centre;
- recruitment of more duty engineers and flood officers;
- investigations into enhancing data collection by increasing the number of rainfall gauges in the catchment;
- supply level ahead of the coming wet season; and
- technical reviews including investigating enhanced modelling of major rainfall and flooding events and better training programs to reflect a potential change in Wivenhoe Dam’s water.
The final flood report is due 24 February 2012.
Increasing cyclone shelters
Ten new multi-purpose public cyclone shelters will be built in North Queensland to withstand category 5 cyclones. This will now bring the total number of category 5-rated shelters to 14.
Shelters located in Cooktown, Kowanyama, Innisfail and Redlynch will be joined by shelters in Mackay, Bowen, Cairns, Ingham, Port Douglas, Proserpine, Townsville, Tully, Weipa and Yeppoon.
The new shelters will be available for year-round use by communities taking the form of auditoriums, theatres, school multi-purpose centres, community halls, gymnasiums, and indoor sports centres due for completion by 2013.
The initiative is funded by a joint $60 million fund established by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Queensland Government.
More information on the shelters can be found at the relevant local council website.
Extending flood and cyclone grant assistance
Flood and cyclone assistance for primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations has been extended to 31 January 2012.
Under Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) Category C, assistance consists of grants up to $25,000 for small business and primary producers in affected areas.
Category D assistance includes special concessional loans of up to $650,000 for eligible businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations suffering extreme damage, with a grant component of up to $50,000.