Victor P Taffa
The people of the North Coast and particularly Coffs Harbour have had it tough in 2009. Up to November 2009 Coffs Harbour has been flooded out 5 times. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong is right to be concerned about rising sea levels and coastal flooding. Besides a Carbon Tax what is being undertaken by both the Rudd and Rees Governments to solve this problem in the longterm?
There is a long history of flooding in Coffs Harbour. Significant flood events have occurred in 1917, 1938, 1950, 1963, 1974, 1977, 1989, 1991 and 2009. As The Great Dividing Range passes very close to the coast at Coffs Harbour and with the proximity of the coastal ranges to the ocean, the coastal plain has no major river systems. However there are numerous small creek systems. Overall there are 16 major coastal creeks plus the inland waterways of the Bobo River, Little Nymboida River, Bucca Creek and Orara River.
Coffs Harbour experiences a moderate climate, which has been classified as humid sub-tropical. Characterised by warm to hot summers and mild winters the area experiences a high rainfall, averaging 1,700 mm annually, with most rain falling in late summer and early autumn while the cooler months receive much less rainfall, and dry spells from April to October.
In November 1996, a natural disaster was declared when Coffs Harbour experienced major flash flooding with some 800 properties flood affected. The 1996 storm event inundated over 250 residential properties and 210 commercial or public properties with 300 persons evacuated
In 2009, a storm on 31 March saw Coffs Creek peak at 5.14m resulting in flash flooding in the Coffs Harbour CBD and surrounding streets. On 5 November 2009, another major storm saw more than 500mm of rain fall within 48 hours resulting in further flash flooding in the city centre area.
We all Tut Tut at how bad the floods have been in Coffs Harbour the question that should be asked is what is being done to solve the problem? It would appear absolutely nothing. To put this into perspective Australia and New South Wales has a history of drought, bushfires and floods. In the 1920s Dr. John Bradfield proposed a series of inland pipelines to irrigate Queensland. The Queensland Government ignored his plans and consequently he came to New South Wales. John Bradfield designed and built the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Severe flooding occurred in 1955 in Maitland and Nyngan, New South Wales in 1990 as did Bourke and the North Coast of New South Wales in 2009, Charleville, Queensland in 1990 and Ingham, Queensland in 2009. Bushfires occurred in New South Wales in 1939, 1977, 1994 and 2006. Victoria faced these disasters in 1939, 1983, 1985, and 2006 and in 2009. South Australia was ravaged by bushfire in 1983 as was Tasmania 1967, Queensland in 1967, 2005 and Canberra 2003. There is a school of thought that back burning should not occur in national parks. Perhaps New South Wales has too many national parks.
Why doesn’t the Rudd and Rees Government commit the necessary funds to construct pipelines to alleviate flooding in Coffs Harbour? Do we really need an employment destroying Carbon Emission Tax on the one hand and no money being made available to build pipelines to solve the flooding on the other? This is notwithstanding the apparent lack of money to complete the upgrade of the deadly Pacific Highway.
What coordination of Government priorities or planning is there when no plans exist to solve Coffs Harbour flooding, when there are plans afoot to construct an unnecessary Tillegra Dam and have an expensive Desalination Plant in Sydney?
The Minister that signed off on the Desalination Plant was then Water Minister and now Premier Nathan Rees.
Where you have flooding 5 times in 2009 at Coffs Harbour and water restrictions on the Central Coast only a few hundred kilometres away who will provide leadership to solve these problems?
The obvious benefit to the construction of pipelines is the possible reduction in the impact of severe drought conditions on farmers in New South Wales.
State Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser along with NSW Nationals leader Andrew Stoner , today called for a full flood study to be completed in the Coffs Harbour local government area and the Bellingen local government areas as a result of our fifth major storm event this year.
Mr Fraser said “ that he had pressed for a flood study to be done during the meetings of the Coffs Coast Recovery Committee post the March and May events earlier this year, but this was met with some resistance by State and Local Government authorities.”
“It would appear that over many years the growth of the Coffs coast area has increased the amount of run off during major storm events,” Mr Fraser said.
“Any money the Federal government contributed would give a positive benefit for the whole of the community and would give a long term positive result rather than the $42 billion stimulus package which appears to have put money in the pockets of major retailers and provides in many cases unwanted school extensions.”
“The Coffs coast is subtropical and major events such as this will continue.” Furthermore Mr. Fraser went on to say:
“I am calling on the State and Federal Governments to immediately make available grants of up to $15,000 for small businesses and farmers who have been severely affected by this latest storm event.”
“I have had dozens of calls from people who have lost stock, fencing, roads and bridges, from fishermen who have lost thousands of dollars worth of fishing gear and businesses who have lost hundreds of dollars worth of stock and floor coverings as a result of the latest storm.” Mr. Fraser said.
When Government’s can allocate monies in the form of grants in cases of emergencies why can’t these same Government’s allocate funds to solve the longterm effects of drought and flooding rains?
When our Nation is to be significantly impacted upon by a Carbon Emission Tax that is not intended to solve the flooding of Coffs Harbour who is really telling the truth and who should we believe?