19 January 2011 – With some economists putting a figure of $20 billion on the Queensland flood damage, the terms of reference for the state government’s Commission of Inquiry has already come under fire for not being broad enough. The Federal Government has also established a business taskforce to mobilise flood recovery efforts.

Architects are concerned that a preferred system of designing and building resilient homes is essential in the terms of reference and will submit proposals. (See our report )

Queensland Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek’s criticism that the inquiry lacked the ability to examine issues outside its specific terms was disputed on the ABC this week when Premier Anna Bligh said the terms of reference “go to every aspect of the management of this disaster.”

Queensland inquiry’s terms of reference
The Queensland Commission of Inquiry’s panel of three is headed by Queensland Justice Cate Holmes with Deputy Commissioners Jim O’Sullivan, a former Queensland Police Commissioner and Phil Cummins, an international expert on dams.
The terms of reference require it to deliver an interim report by 1 August 2011 on flood preparedness so early recommendations can be implemented before next summer’s wet season, with a final report by 17 January 2012.

The commission will report on:

  • preparation and planning by federal, state and local governments, emergency services and the community for the 2010/2011 floods in Queensland.
  • performance of private insurers in meeting their claims responsibilities.
  • all aspects of the response to the 2010/2011 flood events, particularly measures taken to inform the community and protect life and private and public property. Including, immediate management, response and recovery; resourcing, overall coordination and deployment of personnel and equipment; adequacy of equipment and communications systems and the adequacy of the community’s response.
  • measures to manage the supply of essential services such as power, water and communications during the 2010/2011 flood
  • adequacy of forecasts and early warning systems particularly as they related to the flooding in Toowoomba and the Lockyer and Brisbane Valleys.
  • implementation of systems operation plans for dams across the state. In particular the Wivenhoe and Somerset release strategy including an assessment of compliance and the suitability of flood mitigation and dam safety operations.
  • all aspects of land use planning through local and regional planning systems to minimise infrastructure and property impacts from floods.

The commission is also required to consider the regional and geographic differences across affected communities, seek public submissions and hold public hearings in these communities.

It is expected to make recommendations which it considers feasible and cost effective to improve:

  • The preparation and planning for future flood threats and risks, in particular the prevention of the loss of life.
  • The emergency response in natural disaster events.
  • Any legislative changes needed to better protect life and property in natural disaster events.

Federal task force of 10 business leaders
The federal government’s business taskforce to mobilise flood recovery brings together 10 Australian business leaders from a range of industries.

The task force, initially established for three months, will:

  • leverage corporate donations of dollars
  • help drive and coordinate in-kind donations
  • use Australia’s best business expertise to help with business recovery and rebuilding efforts in Queensland.

Members are :

  • Wayne Swan, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer;
  • Bill Shorten, Assistant Treasurer;
  • Andrew Fraser, Queensland Treasurer
  • Graham Bradley, Business Council of Australia President
  • Brian Flannery, White Energy Chief Executive
  • Lindsay Fox, Linfox Chairman
  • Wayne Goss, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Chairman
  • Jock Laurie, National Farmers Federation President
  • Catherine Livingstone, Telstra, Macquarie Bank, WorleyParsons Director
  • Michael Luscombe, Woolworths CEO
  • David Michaelis, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry President
  • Heather Ridout, Australian Industry Group CEO
  • David Stewart, Leighton Holdings Ltd CEO