Saturday, January 29, 2011

Strategies for dealing with Queensland and Victorian floods

Here is a post I put on Facebook recently, and the comments  it attracted.   It is interesting to note divergent opinions on the responsibilities of state governments and developers.

It is however very clear that a lot of homes have been built on areas known to be subject to regular flooding, with little or no effective measures to protect the.

What about marking the highest water levels of recent floods then elevating houses on posts above this where possible (e.g. up to say 4-5m max height above ground level) and consider carefully what to do about the rest. Perhaps they should be rezoned as high flood risk and residents assisted to relocate to higher ground?

15 Jan 2011

Glenn It seems that developers have the final say on what land is to be developed. They are in the business of making money. If they can get away with building houses on flood prone land then they will. They call it capitalism. I call it greed.

Kieran When it comes to developers, everyone calls it GREED.

Peter Campbell Yes, its greed. But what is the cost? At around $10b+ for the Queensland floods, this money would be better spent preventing future flood impacts and another $10b+ costs for the next flood(s). Governments should regulate this.

Heather What has happened in Aust, Brazil, Sri lanka,Bangladesh etc is tragic -but now wait for class actions in negligence against developers and those issuing planning and building permits,particularly by those with insurance probs.The one positive to come out of this situation is that finally authorities are realising that the statistics haven't lied-what all of us have known for 20 years-climate change is happening and proactive preparations need to be undertaken to ensure that societies are protected as best they can be.Smart developers will realise this and develop accordingly.

Simon Developers fault? Developers greed? What? It is a failure of regulation and politicians...the developers can only do what they are allowed to so to blame them is simply ignoring (or absolving) the real issue that it is a failure of government. And after our recent decade long experience in Victoria it also isnt a simple political 'left' or 'right' wing issue comes down to the morals and values of those who set policy.

Harriett Many Brisbane residents were offered buy-backs of their property by the council and they refused.

Danny Developers aren't passive victims of government regulations. Developers in Australia regularly suborn local and state governments and get zoning regulations overridden or modified to suit them. Half the problem with the "morals and values of those who set policy" comes from corruption, in which property developers have a starring role.

Simon ‎" Developers in Australia regularly suborn local and state governments " No, they may 'attempt' to but if they succeed it is due to those that allow it to happen!! The kind of thinking that says it is all the ‘big bad property developer’ is the real problem as we are not making the policy and regulation makers responsible for their actions!! All vested interest groups try and influence and sway policy, the greens certainly do, as do the pro lifers etc. etc. So the issue is with the policy makers and regulators and it is they who need to be held accountable…to do otherwise (and/or blame the vested interest group trying to sway them) is to absolve them of the very responsibility they should be held to account for.

Danny Problems with the political process can't be separated from the rest of society. It's not a coincidence that the most corrupt and least transparent countries in the world also have massive levels of wealth and income inequality. We need to regulate corruption at _both_ ends, by coming down on the people who pay bribes as well as those who take them.

Tom Wrong Simon. 4 years at Waverley Council says you are wrong, wrong, wrong and talking through your hat as well. The donors control the govt who monster the local councils, and the NSW EP&A Act - you could drive a B double through it - and take over planning controls when it doesn't work. Latest example is state govt sell out of Wagga Wagga planning to smear campaign of the developers.

Michael "Transparent Ted" is a property developer by trade isn't he. Maybe he'll make everyone relocate to Dinner Plain, with all the cattle?

Peter Campbell I thought the "other John Howard" in Sea Change was an accurate simile of real life. He wdas busy flogging off Porpoise Spit to Japanese Developers (pre Japan's recession), and ramming through developments regardless of local and environmental impact. In our society, money buys votes, and developers pressure councils and even get their candidates onto them. I agree with Danny, about taking action against bribe takers and givers. Lets see if the anti-corruption commission deals with this.

Simon I agree with Danny the politicians set the process then so to they need to set the standard, leaders set the standards not society. Every time a person says no to being lobbied, coerced or worse they set a higher standard and challenge the (sad) theories of the like who say it is all the nasty developers/donors and nobody else has any power...bollocks, if the NSW govt. grew some stones, if the local govt. wouldn’t be bullied then the issues of Tom's concern wouldn’t occur. That they do is an indictment on those who allowed it. Leadership starts from the top down. If we follow the logic of the power is all with the donor/developer etc. then the Greens are now at the behest of their political donor?? I would like to think not...

Simon Agree Peter, we do need adequate oversight and appropriate bodies to control these sorts of dubious and even fraudulent activities…but it will still come down to those who set the terms of reference and those who actually act/are appointed to those bodies to be moral centered. Sorry to bang on about it ;)

Heather Like Simon I have extremely strong views about the need for an anti-corruption commission which can deal with local govt and govt departments. Yes, I have had an unpleasant experience and all that I can say is thank goodness for the independence of VCAT!

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Grant said...

Morning Peter
My father (as a senior Engineering Manager for Fed Dept of Housing and Construction in 1974) was involved in evaluating the Brisbane flood results in 1974. From what I have been told, the QLD Gov and Bris council had approved for building on known flood plains, but the bigger problem was all the older existing, basically rental suburbs that are located on flood plains. The big problem with relocating the people from the existing older suburbs (many hundreds, if not thousands of homes) was that the people would need to be moved to outlying suburbs/areas causing further uncontrolled expansion of unsupported suburbs(no public transport etc. and long distances for places of employment).
We also need to remember that a large proportion of the older inner city houses are rented to low income families, and there is not the available rental properties even in the very outlying suburbs.
In summary, it is a catch 22 problem. 1. The older inner city properties are always at risk of being flooded, but if you try to move the residents, where do you move them so they can still afford the rents (if rental properties are available), and be central enough to afford to go to work. 2. The State Gov cannot, like Melb, afford to keep allowing Bris to just spread out as the Gov can never hope to provide the ever increasing amount of infrastructure (public transport, schools etc. etc.)
The newer, more expensive suburbs that were flooded, are, in my view the problem of the owners who should have checked the risks of building on a flood plain.

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