Friday, 27 January 2012

Anna Bligh in a spin over latest revelations

Email bursts flood defence over Wivenhoe Dam water release

Wivenhoe water FRESH SCRUTINY: Documents obtained under Right to Information laws have raised more questions about Wivenhoe Dam's operations during last year's floods. Source: The Australian

ANNA Bligh's right-hand man was told two days before Brisbane flooded about crucial information on the operation of Wivenhoe Dam that has this week sparked the reopening of the flood inquiry.

In revelations that will draw the Premier into the controversy, The Courier-Mail can reveal that Ken Smith, then director-general of the Premier's Department and Cabinet, was sent an email by Seqwater on water releases on the morning of January 10, 2011.

The email, sent by Seqwater's head of operations Dan Spiller, said Wivenhoe Dam was letting out water under a transitional strategy, not more rapid releases designed to protect Brisbane, as the inquiry has been told.

It shows that contradictions between documents at the time and Seqwater's later account of events - which have prompted the reopening of the inquiry - should have been known at the highest levels of government for months.

However, an unedited version of the email obtained by The Courier-Mail using Right to Information laws shows it was sent to Mr Smith as well as senior police officers. The email says: "As specified in the approved Operational Procedures, the primary objective is now to minimising the risk of urban inundation (release strategy W2). This involves larger releases now, minimising the risk of even larger releases later (were the flood compartment to reach high levels)."

According to the manual in use at the time, the W2 strategy is "a transition strategy where the primary consideration changes from minimising impact to downstream rural life to protecting urban areas from inundation".

Mr Spiller's dam engineering colleagues who testified at the inquiry said operators went from a "W1E" strategy straight to W3, under which much bigger releases are allowed, and W2 was never used.

Seqwater's official reports, compiled after the flood, back this version of events.
The Premier yesterday dodged questions about what she knew about the strategy being employed at Wivenhoe during the floods."I honestly can't answer the question," she told reporters. "I was asking: 'Are people safe?'" She denied ever receiving briefings on Wivenhoe from Mr Spiller, who stepped down from a job in her office as a policy adviser this week "so there can be absolutely no conflict".

Seqwater said it would be inappropriate to comment.

The Premier's office referred The Courier-Mail to a spokesman for Mr Robertson who said it was "precisely matters such as these that the Commission of Inquiry will interrogate at the additional public hearings next week".
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  1. You know Ross, this was not a "natural disaster".
    It was a "man-made disaster" of the highest order.
    And to make it worse ... there was a cover-up.
    I guess that's how the Labour Party do things, not only in Queensland but in the Federal arena also.
    Craig Thompson for example.
    I don't blame Master Bates becoming a Unity candidate.
    He has seen the light ...

    1. Factman, I think you are spot on about the 'man made disaster'. What I can understand is why would Anna Bligh put such focus on releasing the flood report during the course of a vital election campaign.


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