Premier says response to ‘unprecedented’ flood will be investigated

There will be an independent probe of southeast Queensland’s devastating floods and the government response, but the premier says it was an “extraordinary unprecedented weather event, the likes of which we’ve never seen before”.

Mar 09, 2022, updated Mar 09, 2022
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) is seen meeting members of the ADF (Australian Defence Force) before a media conference at the Goodna Function Centre in Ipswich, Tuesday,.  (AAP Image/Darren England)

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) is seen meeting members of the ADF (Australian Defence Force) before a media conference at the Goodna Function Centre in Ipswich, Tuesday,. (AAP Image/Darren England)

A man is missing and feared dead and another 13 people have died in the deluge, which peaked nine days ago, damaging thousands of homes and businesses from the Wide Bay to the NSW border.

Annastacia Palaszczuk said the disaster and the government’s response will be independently probed by Disaster Management Queensland.

“That does a complete independent review, as we’ve done with other natural disasters,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

“They get tabled in the parliament at the first opportunity, so of course that will happen.”

There have been questions on flood mitigation releases from Wivenhoe Dam during the intense rainfall, which topped one metre in three days at more than 30 locations across the southeast.

The government denied the Wivenhoe releases increased flooding on the Brisbane River and said the dam was operated in accordance with the manual.

Ms Palaszczuk said water couldn’t have been released when the dam was at 58.7 per cent before the intense rain, which hit the whole southeast and not just the Brisbane River catchment.

“The public clearly understands this: the Wivenhoe (Dam) held back four Sydney Harbours,” she stressed.

“There was so much rainfall … I had people stopping me and Gympie saying, ‘Mate, we’ve never seen rainfall like this in our whole entire lives’.

“So the public understand it. I’ve been very thorough about this and there will be a thorough review. It is independent and it gets tabled in the Queensland parliament.”

Seventeen Queensland local governments have declared disasters and Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with the premier on Thursday to discuss declaring the floods as a national emergency, which would streamline Commonwealth support.

As the cleanup continues, the state government will also waive waste levees on all flood refuse in Fraser Coast, Gympie, Noosa, Moreton Bay, Brisbane, Logan, the Gold Coast, Ipswich, the Lockyer Valley, Somerset, Toowoomba and North Burnett.

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Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology warned there could be further severe thunderstorms across the southeast on Wednesday afternoon, which could dump intense rain and trigger further flash flooding.

The death toll rose on Monday after police found the body of a man in a car in the Condamine River, southwest of Brisbane.

Another man is still missing after falling from a boat at Bulimba on Brisbane River on February 26.

A total of 1797 homes were severely damaged and another 2534 moderately damaged by the floods.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said unlike the 2011 floods a lot of damage was caused by flash flooding, so each area would need to be assessed with tailored flood mitigation.

He said levees, stormwater or back flow drainage upgrades, allowing for higher home rebuilds and home buybacks were options.

Mr Miles also said the state had applied for funding for 20 projects, including an update of its flood warning system, from the Commonwealth’s $5 billion flood mitigation program, but it had only received grants for three projects outside southeast.

“In the meantime, they have made $850 million of interest off that fund,” he said.

“They are making a profit off funds that they have not spent making Queensland more resilient.”

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