Floods Commission misses chance

The Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry was today labelled ___a missed opportunity___ by an adjunct professor at Griffith University’s School of Government and International Relations.

Professor Jim McGowan (AM) says governments should approach disaster management as they do counter-terrorism, where resources are channelled into preparation and prevention.

“Natural disasters in Australia are inevitable, yet the allocation of government resources is heavily weighted to response and recovery,” Professor McGowan said.

“Australian research in 2002 showed that flood mitigation can provide a 3:1 return on investment through the avoidance of response and recovery costs.”

The Floods Commission of Inquiry made 177 recommendations in its final report, which was handed down in March.

Premier Campbell Newman tabled the Queensland government’s formal response to the Inquiry in parliament yesterday.

Professor McGowan, an immediate past Director-General of the Department of Community Safety, has lamented what he calls the Inquiry’s failure to address an imbalance in the allocation of government resources through the Natural Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

“The Commission, which could have made a significant and influential contribution to this public policy debate, did not even address the issue,” he said.

“Instead the Inquiry recommends placing greater responsibility and regulation on local and State governments which introduces yet more red and green tape.”

Professor McGowan directed the activities of Emergency Management Queensland in response to a series of disasters including Cyclone Yasi, the 2011 Brisbane floods, the N1H1 virus and Equine Influenza. Professor McGowan continues to provide services to the National Emergency Management Committee.

“The Queensland Floods Commission was given broad terms of reference including floodplain management, State and local government planning, mining industry issues, the performance of private insurers, the emergency response and dam management matters,” Professor McGowan said

“It regrettably ignored, was unaware or disinterested in recent intergovernmental policy developments and particularly the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG’s) strategic intent of building individual and community resilience,” he said.