Much has been written about Australian governments’ apparent incompetence and inability to produce valued outcomes, while recent reports from Queensland have brought the entire sorry paradigm into sharper focus.

In 1984 the Wivenhoe dam was completed as both a water supply for the city of Brisbane and to mitigate floods in the area, particularly down the Brisbane river, with a flood mitigation capacity of 1.45 teralitres (1.450,000 Ml). (1)

As part of the strategy, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) reports to the Queensland government and others, its assessment of threats to the are created by weather events, presumably so that the water levels in the dam can be managed and kept within safe parameters.

According to the Australian (2)…“the Bureau of Meteorology had been warning the Queensland government, disaster management groups and the public since last September that the coming wet season, to March this year, had a high probability of being particularly intense.

AT 12.26pm on Wednesday, January 5, those in the loop for receiving advice on the operations at Wivenhoe Dam received a timely alert.

It was headed “Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Severe Weather Warning – Dam Flood Operations”. Its author, Wivenhoe Dam engineering officer Graham Keegan, wanted to ensure that those authorised to receive his emails understood that significant rainfall of 100mm to 200mm “may occur during the next few days”.

Relaying information from his colleagues at the dam’s Flood Operations Centre (FOC), he added: “Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams are still above (full supply level) and rising slowly due to continuing base-flows from their catchments. As the catchments are still wet it is likely that we will be releasing floodwaters in the near future if BOM’s forecasts are accurate. Please be prepared. We will keep you up to date with our plans as this event develops.”

In other words, BOM foresaw massive rainfalls at a time when the Wivenhoe dam was full, thereby posing a severe threat of overwhelming the dam. Presumably the expectation was that the dam operators would empty water from the dam to make allowances for the forecast rainfall, thereby mitigating the potential flood – one of the main purposes of building the dam in the first place.

Instead of mitigating a flood, the release of massive volumes of water (up to 7.5 Ml/second) at a time when the ground was already saturated, itself caused the Brisbane flood.

Now the damage has been done, the Prime Minister is suggesting a ‘levy’ for the public to pay to help repair the damage.

Let’s get this clear.

Governments build a massive dam to protect Brisbane from floods yet despite timely warnings, governments’ actual operation of the dam led to a catastrophic flooding of Brisbane. In other words, the dam that was supposed to protect the city actually flooded the city.

Now that governments have taken public money to build the dam, then taken more public money to operate that dam in such a way as to cause massive damage to Brisbane, the public is now being told they will have to pay even more money to help repair the damage that the government itself created.

Small wonder governments don’t want us to have any rights.

The right to have our money spent on things that actually do what they are supposed to do, would be a good start.

Which leaves the question – is it government that is so casually inept with our money – or is it just Labor?

Mike Bolan

Mike is a complex systems consultant, change facilitator and executive/management coach.

SEQueensland Water

The Great Avoidable Flood

Note. The author welcomes constructive criticism and new information that adds to our understanding of these matters.


Here’s a link to a video/audio of Dmitri Orlov talking about superpower collapse and what to do about it. I recommend the full video which does stop after 10 mins but if you press play the audio will continue: