‘Disgrace’: Pay up call over flooding anguish

 

Ten years after a raging torrent crashed through homes and destroyed lives there are renewed calls for thousands of flood victims to be swiftly compensated by the state's 'negligent' dam operators.

A class action backed by 7000 people led the Supreme Court in 2019 to find the state government, Seqwater and SunWater were negligent in the operation of the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams in the lead up to the 2011 floods.

The government has accepted the decision but the two dam operators have appealed, which is expected to be heard in the Court of Appeal in May.

 

The Wivenhoe dam in Queensland, 09/01/2011. Pic David Goodwin.
The Wivenhoe dam in Queensland, 09/01/2011. Pic David Goodwin.

 

Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully, who represents the hardest-hit suburb of Goodna, slammed dam operators Seqwater and SunWater for "dragging" the matter out and denying compensation to victims.

"Ten years on and claimants have passed on, families have split up, couples have divorced and children are still suffering from the impact of the flood but Seqwater and SunWater and their lawyers and insurers are continuing to toy with people's lives and emotions," he said.

"This is a national disgrace as the class action grinds to a halt for possibly another two years while the case heads to the High Court."

Goodna resident Frank Beaumont and Paul Tully listen to the flood inquiry judgment. Pic Peter Wallis
Goodna resident Frank Beaumont and Paul Tully listen to the flood inquiry judgment. Pic Peter Wallis

 

 

Mr Tully, who is part of the 7000-strong class action, said the operators should "accept the umpire's decision" and called for new national legislation to ensure large disputes were settled in an appropriate time.

"Justice delayed is justice denied," he said.

"Class actions are powerful tools against corporate wrongdoers but the system needs to be overhauled so that victims of natural disasters don't have to wait for more than a decade to be compensated."

Goodna resident Frank Beaumont, 78, says despite the muddy water receding a decade ago, he's still battling to survive.

 

Flood victim Frank Beaumont shows emotion after listening to a live stream of the 2011 flood class action. PICTURE: Jono Searle
Flood victim Frank Beaumont shows emotion after listening to a live stream of the 2011 flood class action. PICTURE: Jono Searle

 

Mr Beaumont, lost $250,000 in home value, his marriage and family due to the stress of the event.

"It's absolutely frustrating, the court case has been going on for seven years and the next part of it is not until May this year," he said.

As he approaches 80 years old Mr Beaumont is increasingly fearful he won't live to see any money.

"I hope to be around but if Seqwater and SunWater lose their appeal they can go to the High Court so there are another two years - It's very doubtful."

Seqwater and SunWater declined to comment.

Destroyed furniture sits in the mud outside a home in Goodna in January 2011. Picture: Dean Lewins
Destroyed furniture sits in the mud outside a home in Goodna in January 2011. Picture: Dean Lewins

Originally published as 'Disgrace': Pay up call over flooding anguish


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