A Sustainable Australia

Andrew McNamara, Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, gave an impressive, lucid speech to the Brisbane Institute on the need for sustainable planning within Australia.

McNamara quoted the wise words of Bob Carr in 1997:

“I think people are ready to grasp the argument that the unsustainable growth in population numbers is degrading our planet and that Australia must begin to think of itself as a country with a population problem. Let’s throw away for all time the notion that Australia is an empty space just waiting to be filled up. Our rivers, our soils, our vegetation won’t allow that to happen without an enormous cost to those who come after us.”

Showing he missed Carr’s central point, McNamara went on to say:

The key to achieving a sustainable Australian population in the 21st century is population distribution – adopting policies which encourage and support population growth in areas where it can be supported sustainably, and discouraging it in those places where it can’t.

We hope the Federal Government notes well the plight of our region, with plans by the old Maroochy Shire Council to increase its population by 63% by the year 2020, and acts to prevent such lunacy. Stopping the ill-conceived and environmentally devastating Traveston Dam would be a significant indication of the Government’s good intentions also. Population growth in the already environmentally stressed-to-the limit south east corner of Queensland must be discouraged.

An economic strategy based on reducing population generally across Australia and encouraging same must be prepared – ‘smarter and smaller’ needs to become our catchcry. Increased education and parity of wages for women, removal of baby bonuses, encouraging older people back into the workforce, adequate funds for academic research untied to needs of existing industry in order to create new industries down the track, support for innovative brain-based, non-polluting industries, and more apprenticeships would all help.

The Federal Government might also examine the success of the Noosa strategic plan with its population cap and international recognition by UNESCO with a view to using it as a model for communities across Australia.

3 Replies to “A Sustainable Australia”

  1. 270 Downstream Residents at Risk as Lenthalls Dam Gates Hervey Bay are still not operable.
    Wide Bay Water Corporation still have not consulted affected residents upstream regarding the Emergency Action Plan in the event an evacuation is required or residents need to be contacted.

    With a view to investigating the reasons that Public Saftey with Respect to Lenthalls Dam Gate Failure has never been taken too seriously ( or at least upstream saftey issues) we have been looking in the the qualifications and background of the key decision makers within Wide Bay Water Corporation.

    Engineers Registered with the as Proffessional Engineers with the Board of Proffessional Engineers Queensland have an obligation under their code of practice to act with public saftey as a priority.

    It came as a suprise to us to find that of the senior staff and the CEO of WBW only one person a Peter Robbins of Springwood is registered with the BPEQ to operate as an engineer in QLD. The only other BPEQ registered engineer at Wide Bay Water Corporation in a senior decision making role is Mr Thomsen on the board of Directors WBW. Mr Thomsen is located at Ormiston not Hervey Bay.

    The requirements are that unregistered engineers, and it seems there are many in WBW HB, must act under the direct Locational supervision of a registered Engineer.

    That is they must be supervised by enineers located at Hervey Bay.

    Is the CEO under constant supervision by MR Thomsen from the Board? and if so how much is the ratepayer paying for Mr Thomsen to be continually in HB supervising the CEO? The continual travel from Ormiston Brisbane would be expensive?
    The Operations Manual for Lenthalls dam placeds ultimate responsibility for operation with the CEO? Who is supervising the CEO with respect to the Civil and Mechanical and Hyraulogical management of Lenthalls Dam?
    Where are is the supervising engineer located?

    We are confused about how all this works but at least now we feel we understand where the lack of understanding with respect to the saftey of upstream land holders may lie.

    Not being BPEQ registered Engineers these senior staff at WBW do not have the same obigations a registered engineer with BPEQ would have.
    It is in the public interest to ask would they be more focussed on public saftey if the code of practice for registered engineers applied to them?

    Wether this explains the strange lack of consultation with respect to the Emergency Action Plan and the inability to ensure that practical workable contact numbers are included in this document and the lack of admission to land holders about the risk they face we dont know.

    It is in the public interest to ask how water corporations like Wide Bay Water manage their responsibilities and whom is BPEQ qualified to make decisions and issue instruction Water and Dam management is a serious responsiblity as is public expenditure.

    If ratepayes and tax payers have to pay for continual duplicated BPEQ supervision from outside consultants they dont get value for money – but they may not get the best decisions as those in management not BPEQ registered can and will over ride the recommendations given.

    It is in the public interest to as is Time Waldron CEO WBWC a BPEQ registered decision maker or not?
    The CEO is listed in the Lenthalls Dam Operations Manual as the responsible entity for the Dams Safe operation.

  2. Those in Hervey Bay Andrew Macnamars electorate dont place a lot of faith in him. He is very much the local networker – but trying calling his department and you will get an answer machine. Visit QLD national parks see the weed infestation to know that Andrew Macnamars Department is chonriclly under resourced and that he resorts to tokenism.

    You might say that tokenism is a problem for all politicians but Andrew takes this a long way.
    Andrew Macnamara is more concerned with his local business relationships and other networks than good governance. This is played out in terms of the underfunding for the EPA and the tokenism you see in his sustainabilty programs.
    By way of backgroound a little story.
    Lenthalls Dam Gates ( Burrum River) were designed to increase the impoundment and release flood flow – for environmental reasons. It was to be a, have the cake and eat it solution – the people of Hervey Bay had more urban water but the Burrum River would flush with spring / summer rain.

    The gates were installed at a cost of over $10 Million Dollars in December 2007 and failed to operate virtually from inception – the gates jammed in the up position refusing to lower to release flood flow. Andrew Mcnamara was quoted in the Fraser Coast Chronicle ( our local paper) saying words to this effect – I have had enough glasses of wine with Tim Waldron ( dam operator) to know that this is a good project.
    Nothing has been done about the wasted funds and the gates still dont work as designed – this is the sort of result on the environment you will get from the QLD Labour Govt ( in particular Andrew Macnamara)
    – this is our story:
    I have concerns that Australias water infrastructure managers may not be up to the responsibilities involved.
    By this I mean the states, water corporations like Wide Bay Water and local governments.

    Our own experience of dam gate failure at Lenthalls Dam on the Burrum River is a telling – it is indicative of an inability to understand risk and manage public saftey issues

    You would imagine that Dam infrastructure in Australia is safe – however our experience on the Burrum River in QLD shows just how easy it is to become a fatality when Dam Infrastructure fails.

    Gates constructed in December 2007 at Lenthalls Dam on the heavily impounded Burrum River failed to lower to release flood water as designed in Febuary 2008.
    Wide Bay Water was the constructing authority and responsible for the design and operation of the dam gate infrastructure.
    Our upstream farm house, where the tributaries join the dam proper was cut of when flood water continued to back up much higher than the constructing authority Wide Bay Water had predicted the water levels would ever go.
    Three family members were stuck at our farm house. The emergency evacuation plan found in the Lenthalls Dam Emergency Action Plan called for evacuation after water levels reached RL26.91 – water levels reached 27.4 at the dam wall flowing over the blocked gates and backed up to RL28.5 at our house. No one evacuated the famuily members stranded in rising water.
    No one from the constructing authority Wide Bay Water contacted us to undertake evacuation or explain the risk we faced due to Crest Gate Failure.
    We believe the CEO Tim Waldron was overseas at conference when the event happed. The Operations manuals for the dam place responsibilty with the CEO as does the action plan. He has not been called to account for his failure to take responsible action to ensure an evacuation would occur in his abscence if required.

    If the rain event had not stopped the three people cut off at our flood impacted farm house would have been inundated by metres of water.

    We heard about the dam failure from other locals close to the dam wall who had heard the gates have failed – we now have full evidence to verify the dam gate failure.

    The capacity of first world dam operators to manage infrastructure/ risk and operational and human failure is not consistent, Andrew Macnamara and other members of the QLD Labour Govt seem curiously unaware of the public expectation for saftey and have done very little.
    We were very lucky the rain event that caused the flooding to back up over the failed dam gate, stopped.
    It is however only a matter of time before a dam infrastructure failure in the first world causes fatalities.

    What we are seeing in QLD is that the Paradise Dam was to have a fishladder to save the lungfish – the ladders doesnt operate as designed.
    Lenthalls Dam was to have a fish ladder ( the operator has not yet bothered to install it)
    Lenthalls Dam was designed to release flood flow, a more sustainable out come it didnt and Andrew Macnamara was quoted in our local Fraser Coast Chronicle saying he had ” enough bottles of wine” with the dam operatorCEO Tim Waldron, Wide Bay Water to know it was a good project. NOT GOOD ENOUGH ANDREW!!!
    Now Andrew minister for sustainabilty supports Travestion Dam and the installation of similiar infrastructure at Traveston. We wonder if it will work there. Dont place too much store in Andrew Macnamara or his credibility – those in his electorate know better
    Please see the small news article that did report the event ( not comprehensively).

    See the article:
    Resident fears dam gates risk flooding
    Posted Wed May 21, 2008 8:26am AEST
    Updated Wed May 21, 2008 8:25am AEST
    • Map: Hervey Bay 4655
    A land-holder upstream of a major dam south-west of Hervey Bay says multi-million dollar barriers on the storage are broken, putting her family at risk of flooding.
    Queensland Deputy Premier Paul Lucas will officially open the $16 million project at Lenthalls Dam, which is designed to more than double the storage’s capacity.
    In what is claimed to be an Australian first, the two metre high crest gates sink when the dam reaches capacity to prevent flooding upstream and provide for environmental flows.
    But Esther Allan says in February the gates jammed, causing water to back up onto her property.
    “This is an extremely expensive piece of infrastructure. Ratepayers paid for this and their expectation would be that it would be operable,” she said.
    “If it wasn’t, we need to know why – not only because our family’s safety was put at risk, but because ratepayers expect to get a result from the infrastructure they pay for.”
    The local government corporation that runs Lenthalls Dam says the gates do not work, but it was monitoring the rising water.
    Wide Bay Water general manager David Wiskar says adjustments were needed during the dam’s commissioning and are continuing.
    “The gates were all needing some fine-tuning. At the moment we were able to complete that tuning on three of the gates,” he said.
    “There’s two that remain to be done, but we’re waiting until the level in the dam falls to an adequate level to [do] those final two.”
    The Lenthalls Dam Gates are still not fully operational today September 2008 and heading into the QLD summer flood season.

    We can evidence what we are saying.
    We dont have too much faith that any government authority will maintain our saftey or the environmental flows required on the Burrum River.

    Infrastructure once built needs to be operable ongoing through good economic times and bad. Infrastructure needs to be able to operate as designed in all conditions.

    Climate Change will continue to place increased pressure on infrastructure in Australia the frequency of extreme storm and weather events will be a counterpoint to extreme drought.

    If the infrastructure cannot be managed safely now – those who live in areas affected by damming have much to worry about. Climate change will increase the risks posed by failed infrastructure.

    The risks remain for all of those who live on dammed river systems.

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