Queensland Flood Inquiry Report Released

Posted on Fri 03/16/2012 by

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Central Brisbane during the flood of January 2011.

By Andrew Bolt ~

Let’s see what it says about the management of the Wivenhoe dam.

Nothing on the website yet, which is freezing up. The handing over of the report by Justice Catherine Holmes to Premier Anna Bligh was embarrassingly rushed – or simply embarrassed.

After all, the reason this report comes so late is that the inquiry didn’t hear crucial evidence – did it dig deep enough? – until it was flagged by The Australian

Holmes looked ticked off, and suggested people look at the bullet points, but then refused to answer questions. Bligh thanked her twice and seemed to have no idea what was in the report. They all could barely get out of there quick enough.

Wivenhoe Dam Wall, with the flood waters barely inches from the top of the dam.

UPDATE

Three dam engineers are recommended for referral to Queensland’s crime commission. It seems they did not manage the dam releases according to the manual for two days.

Some background from a report last month on two of those engineers (apologies that I can’t quote from the inquiry report itself, which is still off line):

SEQWater senior flood engineers John Tibaldi and Terry Malone, who both testified at the reconvened floods inquiry last week, have stepped aside from their roles at the government authority

During hearings last week, counsel assisting the inquiry Peter Callaghan said Mr Tibaldi’s final report for SEQWater on how the dam was operated was a work of fiction.

He said it was created at the end of January after the floods, to give the false impression that water release strategies were chosen at the time of the flood event.

The dam’s operating manual requires the adoption of a water release strategy at the time of a flood, but Mr Callaghan said Wivenhoe’s engineers failed to do that.

A finding by the inquiry that the dam’s manual was breached could expose the government to a massive compensation claim… Mr Tibaldi has denied misleading the inquiry and creating a false report.

Remember, this is the flood that Australian Greens Party leader Senator Bob Brown blamed on greedy coal miners.

Any chance that this most foolish man will apologise?

UPDATE 2

The final report.

UPDATE 3

The release strategy was too low for too long:

The situation report issued by Mr Ayre at 5.53 pm on 8 January and the note of the flood engineers’ conference at 3.30 pm on 9 January are strong contemporaneous evidence that the dam was not being operated in W3 over Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 January 2011. …

Taken with Mr Allen’s belief, they point to a conclusion that if any strategy was in contemplation it was W1, and that so far as the need for a higher strategy was recognised on the afternoon and evening of 9 January, the strategy initially identified was W2…

It follows that Wivenhoe Dam was operated in breach of the manual from 8.00 am on 8 January 2011 until the evening of 9 January 2011.

And the engineers should have known that when preparing their account afterwards:

Mr Tibaldi should not have been in such uncertainty that he produced a summary for the Minister which indicated that the transition from W1 occurred on the evening of 9 January and a draft of the March flood event report which had it happening before 3.00 pm on 7 January. Mr Ayre should not have been in any doubt about whether he was operating the dam in W2 or W3 on 8 January, since the difference in release rates between the two was said to be so marked. It should have been a moment’s work for Mr Malone in preparing the Summary of Manual to have looked at a spreadsheet and see that the flows from Wivenhoe were such relative to those from the Lockyer and Bremer that the dam could not have been operated in W2 on 8 January.

Adverse findings are made:

The conclusion has been reached that Mr Tibaldi and Mr Ayre knew, and that Mr Malone had a basis for suspecting, that the March flood event report was misleading…

There are several things that may have motivated the three engineers to present the false flood report, including a wish to protect their professional reputations from the damage that would be caused by a disregard of the manual, or the maintenance of Seqwater’s immunity under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act. Mr Ayre, Mr Malone and Mr Tibaldi each had a level of understanding that the report was misleading.

The recommendation:

The Crime and Misconduct Commission should investigate whether the conduct of Mr Tibaldi, Mr Ayre and Mr Malone relating to:

• preparation of documents surrounding the January 2011 flood event, including the 17 January 2011 brief to the Minister, the 2 March 2011 flood event report, and statements provided to the Commission• oral testimony given to the Commission

evidences offence/s against the Criminal Code, and/or official misconduct under the Crime and Misconduct Act 2001 committed by any, or all, of them.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

Read more excellent articles from Andrew Bolt’s Blog . http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/

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