Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has launched a statewide independent Commission of Inquiry to forensically examine Queensland’s unprecedented flood disaster.
Ms Bligh said the Commission would be headed by widely respected Queensland Justice Cate Holmes with Deputy Commissioners Jim O’Sullivan, a former Queensland Police Commissioner and Phil Cummins, an international expert on dams.
She said the Commission of Inquiry, approved by Cabinet today and appointed by the Queensland Governor after a special Executive Council meeting, would deliver an interim report in August 2011, and its final report by January 2012.
The Premier said the Inquiry would have the powers of a Royal Commission, would take public submissions from across Queensland and would make recommendations in its interim report for future wet seasons.
“The last three weeks have been truly shocking for all Queenslanders and now is the time to forensically examine the devastating chain of events and the aftermath,” Ms Bligh said.
The Commission will be asked to inquire into and report on:
The preparation and planning by federal, State and local governments; emergency services and the community for the 2010/2011 floods in Queensland.
The 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 measures to protect life and private and public property, including:
o immediate management, response and recovery;
o resourcing, overall coordination and deployment of personnel and equipment;
o adequacy of equipment and communications systems; and
o the adequacy of the community’s response.
The measures to manage the supply of essential services such as power, water and communications during the 2010/2011 flood events
Adequacy of forecasts and early warning systems particularly as they related to the flooding events in Toowoomba, and the Lockyer and Brisbane Valleys.
Implementation of the systems operation plans for dams across the state and in particular the Wivenhoe and Somerset release strategy and an assessment of compliance with, and the suitability of the operational procedures relating to flood mitigation and dam safety.
All aspects of land use planning through local and regional planning systems to minimise infrastructure and property impacts from floods.
In undertaking its inquiries, the Commission is required to:
– Take into account the regional and geographic differences across affected communities.
– Seek public submissions and hold public hearings in affected communities.
The Commission of Inquiry is also required to make recommendations which it considers appropriate, 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.