The Viewpoint - A royal waste of money?

Friday 21 January 2011

The Viewpoint - A royal waste of money?


by Ina van Bezoen

When I read that there was going to be a Royal Commission into the Queensland Flood Crisis and that it was going to take about a year to complete and cost around $15 million,  I had to look up what a Royal Commission actually does.

I wanted to know who will 'oversee' the independent inquiry, and what the results have been from previous Royal Commissions (RC). I was under the impression that Natural Disasters were exempt from RC's.

The Victorian bushfires RC had questions that needed answering such as the use of back burning, the responses to emergencies,  the operation and actions of the Victorian Fire Brigade, people deliberately lighting fires and so on.

But I don't see why a freak flood, a lot of rain, and high tides warrants a $15 million inquiry.

Yes, it is partly about the money. While riding high on emotion it's clear that a transparent review is needed for the people who died, for all who lost their possessions and for future generations.

We see the great efforts of volunteers extending a helping hand to clean up the mess, helping people going back to their home, to work, and starting all over again.

My point is unless the treasure chest is full of useless money, wouldn't the $15 million come in handy there?

Or perhaps an inquiry overseen by volunteer senior qualified and retired professionals to give their bit in assisting Queensland's recovery, infrastructure and services?

I was impressed by Anna Bligh's updates, covering the progress of the floods, explaining the capabilities of the dam, warning, the reasons behind the actions they took (releasing water from the dam, power supplies cut off etc) and her empathy for her State's people.

Decisions are based on what is in front of you and the predictions experts make.

Issues such as insurance company policies, building permits and adherence..... isn't it just highlighting that we as human beings are fickle? No inquiry can change that.

There will always be people and companies wanting to take advantage of situations such as the flood crisis. There will always be people that want to build somewhere risky (and with the right contacts they can) while the rest blindly follow. A restaurant that wants a view? Why not?

But if a RC is needed to look into that, why not wait a few weeks. I don't think there was a RC for the 1974 floods.

An example of a recommendation resulting from the RC into Victoria's bushfires is 'Recommendation 26'. It states:

"The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment adopt the title 'safety officer' (as opposed to 'safety adviser') and require without exception that a safety officer be appointed to every level 3 incident management team)."

That is a very worthy recommendation, officer sounds so much better.

If anyone can explain to me what the benefit is of spending $15 million for the future is instead of spending it on the people needing financial support now, on the roads that need repairing now, on services that need to be operational now, please let me know.

If the results of the inquiry can't be determined in any other way but to spend the cash, I am happy to change my Viewpoint.

If you've got a Viewpoint on an issue that's important to you, or even just for laughs, send it to