Thousands of Queenslanders have launched a class action over the 2011 floods in Brisbane and Ipswich.
Thousands of Queenslanders have launched a class action over the 2011 floods in Brisbane and Ipswich.

Court rules in favour of 2011 flood victims

MORE than 6000 south east Queensland flood victims are likely to receive some hefty compensation cheques in the year ahead as a New South Wales Supreme court ruled the State Government failed to manage its dams properly during the January 2011 flood disaster.

After a two year battle the billion dollar class action, by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers against the State Government, Sunwater and Seqwater, has proven successful after findings handed down this morning.

Flood victims at the former ''ground zero'' of the 2011 floods, the Goodna suburb of Ipswich, gathered near the banks of the Brisbane River to listen to the judgement on live streaming, and were sharing a few bottles of champagne by 10 p.m.

Former Ipswich councillor and flood victim Paul Tully organised the gathering and called on the state Government not to pursue any appeal.

"There are a few people bloody well crying here _ we are all sharing stories and remembering the floods and it has been good for everyone,'' said Tully, whose family of four lost their home in the flood.

"I just say to the Premier, 'draw a line in the sand, don't pursue an appeal'."

Mr Tully held flood victim Frank Beaumont in his arms, as the pair called on payments to now be delivered.

"He really ripped apart the dam engineers," Mr Beaumont said.

"We should not ever have been flooded."

Dressed in his mud and filth stained clothes from the day of the flood, Mr Beaumont said he remembered seeing a kangaroo in the powerlines and the water above his two-storey home.

"It was just devastation," he said.

"My fridge freezer was turned upside down. My property was surrounded by my possessions."

In his judgement New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Robert Beech-Jones found the dams were not managed in accordance with the dam manual.

One of the crucial aspects of that management was a failure to take into account forecast rain.Justice Beech-Jones was particularly scathing in his findings on the evidence of some of the four dam engineers.

He found they did not take into account the heavy rainfalls that were predicted in the days leading up the floods which devastated the south east during and after January 11 2011.

The engineers appeared to assume no more rain would fall above the dam as they made decisions on how much water to release, the Judge said.

He found the engineers "failed to follow the very manual they had drafted, or participated in drafting, only 18 months ago (before the flood event)...."

Justice Beech-Jones said the dam engineers relied on reports of water already on the ground as they planned their strategy on dam release.

"They contended that rainfall forecasts were far too uncertain."

The class action which began hearings in December 2017 has heard enormously complex technical data but always centred on a simple proposition that Maurice Blackburn has pursued for many years.Julian Sexton, QC, for the plaintiff, told the hearing in its opening days that Seqwater dam engineers effectively "bet against" Bureau of Meteorology forecasts and failed to allow adequate storage space at Wivenhoe Dam for incoming flows during the ­crucial days of heavy rainfall in early January 2011.

When more rain continued to fall, the massive body of water had to be released contributing to flooding, Mr Sexton said.