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Thousands still wait for flood compensation

SUPPORT: The clean-up in Goodna in January, 2011 after major flooding. Goodna resident Benitta Harding is comforted by her friend Annie Walsh of Redbank Plains.
SUPPORT: The clean-up in Goodna in January, 2011 after major flooding. Goodna resident Benitta Harding is comforted by her friend Annie Walsh of Redbank Plains. David Nielsen

SIX years on from the 2011 floods and victims are still waiting for compensation from a multi-billion dollar class action.

Maurice Blackburn lawyers filed a class action in the Supreme Court of New South Wales on July 8, 2014 seeking compensation for financial loss and damage caused by the negligent operation of Wivenhoe and Somerset dams during the January 2011 flood in south-east Queensland.

The hearing had been set down for the Supreme Court of NSW in Sydney on July 18 of last year, but was delayed.

The class action has been launched by law firm Maurice Blackburn against Seqwater, Sun Water and the State of Queensland on behalf of 4500 Ipswich and Brisbane plaintiffs who lost homes and businesses in the 2011 floods.

Cr Paul Tully, who lost his Goodna home in the floods, has reiterated his call for the action to be settled out of court by the Queensland Government before it gets to trial.

"Last year the judge ordered the exchange of more material on both sides," Cr Tully said.

"What it is leading to is a long, drawn out trial which could go for many months later this year or next year.

"The only winners will be the lawyers, which is why I am urging the State Government again to consider settling the action."

 

Flooding in Ipswich CBD in 2011.
Flooding in Ipswich CBD in 2011. Rob Williams

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the QT last year that any decision about a settlement would be made by Crown Law and that she was not able to comment.

Maurice Blackburn's website states that the class action is "being brought in negligence, against Seqwater, Sunwater and the State of Queensland. As the operators of Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams, they had a duty to operate the dams competently in order to minimise the impact of dam releases downstream."

"The class action alleges that the negligent operation of the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams in the lead up to and during the 2011 flood significantly contributed to the extent and the level of flooding downstream of the dams and created a flood that was much worse than it would have been if the dams had been operated competently."

The class action is being run on a no win, no fee basis. Many people in the Ipswich area are claimants and it is expected that a hearing could be heard later this year.

There were 600 properties flooded in 2011 in Goodna, the highest number of any suburb in south-east Queensland. Cr Tully said there were just six flood damaged houses in Goodna that had no repairs done to them since the flood.

 

Barry Adams of Woodend used this dingy to help his family move possessions and themselves to higher ground on Leslie Street at East Ipswich.
Barry Adams of Woodend used this dingy to help his family move possessions and themselves to higher ground on Leslie Street at East Ipswich. David Nielsen

"The community has come forward and regrown," he said.

"It is a testament to the good will in the community how people have worked together. Six short years later most people have pretty well recovered from the flood."

There is one home, in Woogaroo St, where there have been reports of squatters moving in.

Squatting is not a criminal offence, unless a person breaks and enters with the intent of committing an indictable offence. Squatting is however a civil matter and a landlord can ask police to assist in evicting the squatters.

Cr Tully said that the houses that remained in rack and ruin were generally owned by those who were not insured and hadn't been able to afford to restore them.

Topics:  2011 floods class action cr paul tully maurice blackburn


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