Wednesday 31 August 2022

A handful of not so fun facts for Yamba residents


Matters that state government, local government and regional planning panels should consider (but more often barely notice in passing) before granting consent for large scale residential developments along the NSW coastal zone.

Take Yamba for instance, bounded by the Clarence River estuary and Pacific Ocean...

Probable Maximum Flood (PMF). The largest flood that could conceivably be expected to occur at a particular location, usually estimated from probable maximum precipitation. The PMF defines the maximum extent of flood prone land, that is, the floodplain.



1. Reliable access for pedestrians or vehicles required during a 100 year flood to a publicly accessible location above the PMF”


Evacuation Centre: Yamba Bowling And Recreation Club [SES, CLARENCE VALLEY LOCAL FLOOD PLAN ANNEX J]

Click on image to enlarge

Approach to Yamba Bowling Club for most of Yamba population will be blocked by 1-in-100yr Flood at 2.09-2.2m & Extreme Flood at 3.56-3.68m.

In both flood types Yamba will be isolated from the wider Clarence Valley by floodwaters for a matter of days or weeks.

Since 1990 the Lower Clarence River has flooded on average once every three years.  

Tuesday 30 August 2022

Northern Rivers Conservatorium in Lismore begins to make music again

ABC North Coast, 28 August 2022:

For some, the only sound they associate with Lismore on February 28, 2022, is the relentless artillery of rain on roofs.

It's the gurgle of brown, muddy water as it swallows homes and the crash of appliances in the Wilsons River washing machine.

It's the calls for help from roof cavities and the sputtering of tinnies coming to the rescue.

For Lismore composer and multi-instrumentalist Tilly Jones, the sound of the flood is something expressed best through an orchestra.

Ms Jones has written a musical piece named Resounding, inspired by the destruction she witnessed on that late summer day and the desecration of Lismore's Northern Rivers Conservatorium.

She was encouraged by her uncle Christopher Latham who directs a project called the Flowers of Peace, which measures the cultural cost of war through music and painting.

"I don't think I'll fully ever be able to process it," she says.

Flood victims still waiting

Some Northern Rivers families are living in limbo, crammed into makeshift accommodation or in caravans on the street, waiting for answers.

"But it did in a way help me to process a bit of the loss of the community, particularly with the conservatorium.

"I was helping there on the first day after the flood when we threw out hundreds and hundreds of instruments including some of my own."

Ms Jones says the first half of the piece tells of the flood, the second half is a tribute to everyone involved in cleaning up the aftermath.

"I think it's a really big challenge to translate something of that magnitude into music," she says.

"[But I wanted] to write a piece to give to my community."

Ms Jones says Resounding is a way of dealing with the trauma of the flood.(ABC North Coast: Leah White)

Ms Jones says the end goal is bringing the region's musicians together — with their newly donated instruments — to perform the piece in the renovated conservatorium building.

Hundreds of instruments lost to flood

Anita Bellman stands in the gutted first floor of the Northern Rivers Conservatorium in the Lismore CBD.

She explains that the night before the record-breaking flood, conservatorium staff and members moved everything to the first floor, where it had been out of harm's way during the 2017 flood.

Their efforts, they soon realised — like those of so many others — were ultimately in vain as they watched Wilsons River rise beyond all predicted heights to 14.4 metres on February 28.

The historic and freshly renovated building was destroyed along with hundreds of instruments.

"It looked like a giant had picked the building up and just given it a bit of a shake," Ms Bellman says.

"We probably lost, in total, well over 150 instruments.

"Any instrument you can think of, we lost."

More than 150 instruments were damaged during the disaster.(Supplied: Northern Rivers Conservatorium)

Resounding gives the gift of music

When Rachel Hocking arrived at the conservatorium in Lismore, she was driving a van filled with hundreds of donated instruments.

A pianist and music teacher, Dr Hocking also founded the Resound program which distributes donated instruments to victims of natural disasters.

The initiative started after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires…..

Read the full article here.

Monday 29 August 2022

Albanese Labor Government announces independent inquiry into Morrison's multiple ministerial appointments led by former High Court justice


Australian Government, Attorney General’s Department, Inquiry into Multiple Ministerial Appointments, 26 August 2022:

Inquiry into the appointment of the Hon Scott Morrison MP to administer various portfolios and related matters

On 26 August 2022, the Prime Minister, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP and the Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, announced the appointment of the Hon Virginia Bell AC to lead an Inquiry into the appointment of the former Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP to multiple ministries.

A website will be established for the review.

Terms of Reference

The Hon Virginia Bell AC has been appointed to conduct an inquiry into the appointment of former Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP to administer departments other than the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and related matters. The inquiry will:

a. examine and report on the facts and circumstances surrounding the appointment of Mr Morrison to administer the Department of Health, the Department of Finance, the Department of Industry, Science and Energy and Resources, the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of the Treasury, in addition to the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet

b. examine and report on the implications arising from the appointments, including on:

i. the functioning of departments of state, Government Business Enterprises and statutory bodies;

ii. the structure of the Ministry

iii. the accountability of the executive to the Parliament; and

iv. public confidence in government

c. examine and report on the practices and processes which apply to:

I. the appointment of ministers to administer departments of state under section 64 of the Constitution; and

ii. directions that ministers hold certain offices under section 65 of the Constitution;

including the disclosure of those appointments and directions; and

d. recommend any procedural or legislative changes which would provide greater transparency and accountability.

The inquiry shall have regard to the Solicitor-General’s Opinion in the matter of the validity of the appointment of Mr Morrison to administer the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (SG No.12 of 2022).

Ms Bell will report to the Prime Minister by Friday, 25 November 2022.

ABC News, 26 August 2022:

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the inquiry was necessary for democracy.

"This inquiry is one which absolutely was made necessary by the solicitor-general's advice, which expressed in the clearest possible terms that what occurred here with Mr Morrison having himself appointed to five ministries was contrary to, inconsistent with, the conventions and practices of responsible government," Mr Dreyfus said.

"This is sinister stuff. This is secret government. This is one of the most appalling things I've ever heard in our federal government."

Mr Albanese said the government chose not to launch a royal commission, which would compel Mr Morrison to appear to give evidence, saying it would be "extraordinary" for the former prime minister to refuse a former justice.

"If it was the case that Virginia Bell felt like she was not getting the cooperation that was required, then I'm certain that other measures could be considered," he said.

More to come.

[my yellow highlighting]

Sunday 28 August 2022

Albanese Government announces $75 million flood mitigation grant for NSW - drawn from the $3.9 billion national Emergency Response Fund


The National Tribune, 26 August 2022:

The Albanese Government has today announced a $75 million investment in flood mitigation and infrastructure resilience programs for New South Wales.

The support will be delivered across the 62 local government areas (LGAs) which were disaster-declared after the February-March flood event.

The program is wholly funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Emergency Response Fund, but will be delivered by New South Wales Government agencies, including Resilience NSW, the Department of Regional NSW and the Department of Planning and Environment.

The program includes:

  • $40 million for flood infrastructure: grants for councils and government agencies for flood mitigation projects, including funding for home raising projects.

  • $15 million for flood warning gauges: support for councils and government agencies to install, upgrade and operate flood warning gauges, systems and associated advice to make the community aware of the warning system.

  • $14 million for a levee assessment and improvement program: flood impact assessments of flood mitigation infrastructure damaged by the February-March flood event. These assessments will be used as the basis for flood mitigation repairs and improvements.

  • $5 million for valley level flood assessments: to provide improved information for flood risk management and emergency management decisions, and support improved State-wide understanding of flood risk.

  • $1 million for a flood infrastructure impact assessment and report: to outline flood infrastructure impacts, available information on the relative rarity of the flood at key locations and identify known priority flood risk management measures.

In no small measure Northern Rivers communities have helped bring this about by their own passionate advocacy in the media and, before both government & parliamentary inquiries, ably assisted by state MLA for Lismore Janelle Saffin and federal MP for Richmond Justine Elliot.

Royal Commission into Robodebt and Terms of Reference announced by Albanese Government


Ministers for the Department of Social Services, media release, 25 August 2022:

Establishment of the Royal Commission into Robodebt

Joint with:

Anthony Albanese MP

Prime Minister of Australia

Amanda Rishworth MP

Minister for Social Services

Bill Shorten MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Minister for Government Services

Mark Dreyfus QC MP


The Governor-General His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) has issued Letters Patent establishing a Royal Commission into the former debt assessment and recovery scheme commonly known as Robodebt.

The inquiry will examine, among other things:

  • The establishment, design and implementation of the scheme; who was responsible for it; why they considered Robodebt necessary; and, any concerns raised regarding the legality and fairness;

  • The handling of concerns raised about the scheme, including adverse decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal;

  • The outcomes of the scheme, including the harm to vulnerable individuals and the total financial cost to government; and

  • Measures needed to prevent similar failures in public administration.

The Royal Commission’s focus will be on decisions made by those in positions of seniority. The full scope of the inquiry is outlined in the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference.

Commonwealth agencies will work to respond expeditiously to requests made by the Royal Commission.

The Royal Commissioner is Catherine Holmes AC SC. The Commissioner is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland and brings vast experience from a distinguished legal career.

The Commissioner led the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry following the 2010-11 floods and acted as counsel assisting the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions in 1998-99.

The Government has allocated $30 million for the Royal Commission and the final report will be delivered to the Governor-General by 18 April 2023.

The headquarters of the Royal Commission will be in Brisbane and information about hearing dates and how to participate will be provided in the coming weeks.

A legal financial assistance scheme will be available to people requested to formally engage with the Royal Commission, for example, to appear as a witness.


The Monthly, 25 August 2022:

The government has announced the terms of reference for a royal commission into robodebt, fulfilling an election promise to get to the bottom of a calamity that we still know so little about. The inquiry will be led by former Queensland Supreme Court chief justice Catherine Holmes, with the final report to be handed down in April 2023. It will examine, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said today, “the establishment of the scheme, who was responsible for it, and why it was necessary, how concerns were handled, how the scheme affected individuals and the financial costs to government, and measures to prevent this ever happening again”. Government Services Minister Bill Shorten, who spent years raising concerns about the automated recovery scheme, labelled it “a shameful chapter in the history of public administration in this country”, adding that it had caused “untold harm”. The Opposition has already rubbished the commission, with leader Peter Dutton calling it a “witch-hunt” and a “get-square” with Scott Morrison, who was social services minister when the scheme was established. It’s little wonder the Coalition doesn’t want this looked into. But it is utterly shameless of it to continually insist that nothing in the past matters – that we don’t deserve answers to what went on in the years it spent using and abusing the office of government.

Following along with Dutton’s comments today, there was little differentiation between when he was talking about the robodebt royal commission and when he was talking about the inquiry into Morrison’s secret portfolios, which he has also begun labelling a “witch-hunt”. “[The prime minister] should be concentrating more on how he can help families and less on how we can get square with Scott Morrison,” Dutton told reporters this morning, ostensibly talking about robodebt….


Australian Parliament, Senate, Community Affairs References

Committee, Centrelink’s Compliance Program, Accountability and justice: Why we need a Royal Commission into Robodebt, May 2022.

Saturday 27 August 2022

"Stop The Fill" peaceful protest at Ford Park, Yamba at 11am on Sunday 28 August 2022. Gather at western side of Yamba Markets on the day

Lot 245 / 22 Carrs DriveWest Yamba, multiple lot subdivision. Just one section of the total landfill which will be required across est. 127ha of a natural flood storage area . IMAGE: The Daily Telegraph, 31 May 2021.
IMAGE: West Yamba Info
click on image to enlarge

Tweet of the Week

Friday 26 August 2022

It’s time. Time that at federal, state and local government level all elected or appointed officials, all public servants and council administrations turned to face what the phrase “climate crisis” actually means in macro and micro terms to coastal populations


It’s time. Time that at federal, state and local government level all elected and appointed officials, all public servants and council administrations really accepted that global warming and climate change is real and is happening right now.

To turn and face what the phrase “climate crisis” actually means in macro and micro terms.

Everyone needs to recognise that in 2022 science knows more that it did in the years 1990, 2000, 2010.

What was once thought the degree of global warming that the earth could tolerate (5°C above pre-industrial levels) is now in doubt and the tipping points causing ‘large-scale discontinuities’ are thought to have the potential to occur at as low as 1 and 2 °C – some of which have already occurred.

Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 ± 0.24 °C since national records began in 1910 leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events. With most of this warming occurring since the 1950s. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in 2020 a number of factors caused by a warming Australia can be identified;

  • Oceans around Australia are acidifying and have warmed by around 1 °C since 1910, contributing to longer and more frequent marine heatwaves.

  • Sea levels are rising around Australia, including more frequent extremes, that are increasing the risk of inundation and damage to coastal infrastructure and communities.

  • There has been a decline of around 16 per cent in April to October rainfall in the southwest of Australia since 1970. Across the same region May–July rainfall has seen the largest decrease, by around 20 per cent since 1970.

  • In the southeast of Australia there has been a decline of around 12 per cent in April to October rainfall since the late 1990s.

  • There has been a decrease in streamflow at the majority of streamflow gauges across southern Australia since 1975.

  • Rainfall and streamflow have increased across parts of northern Australia since the 1970s.

  • There has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and in the length of the fire season, across large parts of the country since the 1950s, especially in southern Australia.

  • There has been a decrease in the number of tropical cyclones observed in the Australian region since 1982.

Again according to BOM, by 2021 the national mean temperature was 0.56 °C warmer than the 1961–1990 average.

In other words, the continent continues to warm and our weather is changing across all seasons of the year and catastrophic weather events are either becoming more frequent or more intense.

The Climate Council in its UNINSURABLE NATION: AUSTRALIA’S MOST CLIMATE-VULNERABLE PLACES, 3 May 2022 report states:

Worsening extreme weather means increased costs of maintenance, repair and replacement to properties – our homes, workplaces and commercial buildings. As the risk of being affected by extreme weather events increases, insurers will raise premiums to cover the increased cost of claims and reinsurance.

Insurance will become increasingly unaffordable or unavailable in large parts of Australia due to worsening extreme weather…..

Across Australia approximately 520,940 properties, or one in every 25, will be ‘high risk’, having annual damage costs from extreme weather and climate change that make them effectively uninsurable by 2030. In addition, 9% of properties (1 in 11) will reach the ‘medium risk’ classification by 2030, with annual damage costs that equate to 0.2-1% of the property replacement cost. These properties are at risk of becoming underinsured….

Climate change affects all Australians, but some federal electorates face far greater risks than others.

The top 10 most at-risk federal electorates by 2030 are:

1. Nicholls (Vic)

2. Richmond (NSW)

3. Maranoa (QLD)

4. Moncrieff (QLD),

5. Wright (QLD),

6. Brisbane (QLD),

7. Griffith (QLD),

8. Indi (Vic)

9. Page (NSW) and

10. Hindmarsh (SA).

  • In these at-risk electorates, 15% of properties (165,646) or around one in every seven properties will be uninsurable this decade….

  • The percentage of properties that will be uninsurable by 2030 in each state and territory is 6.5% in Queensland; 3.3% in NSW; 3.2% in South Australia; 2.6% in Victoria; 2.5% in the Northern Territory; 2.4% in Western Australia; 2% in Tasmania and 1.3% in the ACT.

People living in the NSW Northern Rivers Region’s seven local government areas will recognise that both of their federal electorates are on the Top 10 most at-risk” list.

In the Page electorate this refers to Parts of Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley, with a combined total of 103,657 properties at levels of risk ranging from medium to high. With 5.4% of properties at high risk to riverine flooding, 0.4% of properties at high risk to surface water flooding and 5.3% of properties at high risk to bushfire.

While in the Richmond electorate this refers to Tweed, Byron, Ballina, with a combined total of 106,445 properties at levels of risk ranging from medium to high risk. With 14% of properties being at at high risk to riverine flooding, 0.4% of properties at high risk to surface water flooding and 5.2% of properties at high risk to bushfire.

The insurance, banking and real estate industries have noticed these statistics for years and now speak in terms of coastal zone properties in danger of becoming uninsurable, sited on land that will no longer have a monetary value.

One co-author of the Climate Council report has advised home owners and buyers to have a deep understanding of the local hazards and to acquire a property-specific report on their risk.

Three years after the first U.N. assessment report containing predictions of global warming and climatic impacts, the NSW Government protected itself and local councils against being held accountable for future deficiencies in decision making with regard to urban and infrastructure planning by establishing a new the Local Government Act in 1993

This Act divested local councils of any and all responsibility by a presumption that local government in all things acts in good faith unless proven otherwise and, local government across the state slowly began to apply a superficial wash of climate change mention in policies and sometimes even planning documents.

Safe in the knowledge, that when considering actual development applications for both large and small land subdivision by predominately professional incorporated property developers, councils In The Chamber, council executives, administrations and all employees had a “Get out of Jail Free” card. Because after all it’s just a game of Monopoly, innit?

This attitude is what drives Clarence Valley Council and a number of property developers with land in Yamba. Who after decades of poring over maps of West Yamba together have increasingly been making decisions about Yamba township with little or no regard for either the wellbeing or concerns of residents and ratepayers.

It’s reached the risible stage in relation to that land zoned residential, accessed via Carrs Drive. Where a long promised Master Plan for the entire urban land release was not proceeded with and its need later denied. 

When land filling resulted in problems on surrounding properties becoming very evident, Council administration was careful to go through a very limited form of cursory community consultation designed not to have a binding outcome and, rather conveniently is now only offering a West Yamba Urban Release Area information page on Council’s website and a printed quarterly update on development progress previously mutually agreed to by property developers and Council.

A move which offers no binding certainty on population density, lot numbers or sizes and still treats land filling on an ad hoc basis.

The lack of any real consideration of climate change impacts is appalling and mirrored in other large subdivisions such as those in Orion Drive, Park Ave and Golding Street.

The video at demonstrates just how poorly thought through was the approx. 2.8 AHD landfill and drainage at the Park Ave lot which has raised an est. 6.65ha of land above the ground level of a significant number of adjoining and adjacent long established and occupied residential properties. 

Screenshot taken from video "IN-DEPTH DETAILS OF THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT on the Keep Yamba Country website, 2022

Similar scenarios are being played out in other Northern Rivers local government areas. Developers are not stupid. They know that now climate change is not just an abstract idea but something that can be seen and experienced they only have a finite time to offload their coastal zone subdivisions onto unsuspecting residential lot purchasers – before the next catastrophic flood or bushfire devastates a town/area considered to be a desirable place to live and wipes out the urge to buy land there. 


Excerpts from Local Government Act 1993 as of 16 July 2022:

731 Liability of councillors, employees and other persons

A matter or thing done by the Minister, the Departmental Chief Executive, a council, a councillor, a member of a committee of the council or an employee of the council or any person acting under the direction of the Minister, the Departmental Chief Executive, the council or a committee of the council does not, if the matter or thing was done in good faith for the purpose of executing this or any other Act, and for and on behalf of the Minister, the Departmental Chief Executive, the council or a committee of the council, subject a councillor, a member, an employee or a person so acting personally to any action, liability, claim or demand.

733 Exemption from liability—flood liable land, land subject to risk of bush fire and land in coastal zone

(1) A council does not incur any liability in respect of—

(a) any advice furnished in good faith by the council relating to the likelihood of any land being flooded or the nature or extent of any such flooding, or

(b) anything done or omitted to be done in good faith by the council in so far as it relates to the likelihood of land being flooded or the nature or extent of any such flooding.

(2) A council does not incur any liability in respect of—

(a) any advice furnished in good faith by the council relating to the likelihood of any land in the coastal zone being affected by a coastline hazard (as described in the coastal management manual under the Coastal Management Act 2016) or the nature or extent of any such hazard, or

(b) anything done or omitted to be done in good faith by the council in so far as it relates to the likelihood of land being so affected.

(2A) A council does not incur any liability in respect of—

(a) any advice furnished in good faith by the council relating to the likelihood of any land being subject to the risk of bush fire or the nature or extent of any such risk, or

(b) anything done or omitted to be done in good faith by the council in so far as it relates to the likelihood of land being subject to the risk of bush fire.

(3) Without limiting subsections (1), (2) and (2A), those subsections apply to—

(a) the preparation or making of an environmental planning instrument, including a planning proposal for the proposed environmental planning instrument, or a development control plan, or the granting or refusal of consent to a development application, or the determination of an application for a complying development certificate, under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and

(b) the preparation and adoption of a coastal management program under the Coastal Management Act 2016 (and the preparation and making of a coastal zone management plan under the Coastal Protection Act 1979 that is continued in effect by operation of clause 4 of Schedule 3 to the Coastal Management Act 2016), and

(c) the imposition of any condition in relation to an application referred to in paragraph (a), and

(d) advice furnished in a certificate under section 149 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and

(e) the carrying out of flood mitigation works, and

(f) the carrying out of coastal protection works, and

(f1) the carrying out of bush fire hazard reduction works, and

(f2) anything done or omitted to be done regarding beach erosion or shoreline recession on Crown land (including Crown managed land) or land owned or controlled by a council or a public authority, and

(f3) the failure to upgrade flood mitigation works or coastal protection works in response to projected or actual impacts of climate change, and

(f4) the failure to undertake action to enforce the removal of illegal or unauthorised structures that results in erosion of a beach or land adjacent to a beach, and

(f5) the provision of information relating to climate change or sea level rise, and

(f6) (Repealed) anything done or omitted to be done regarding the negligent placement or maintenance by a landowner of emergency coastal protection works authorised by a certificate under Division 2 of Part 4C of the Coastal Protection Act 1979,

(g) any other thing done or omitted to be done in the exercise of a council’s functions under this or any other Act.

(4) Without limiting any other circumstances in which a council may have acted in good faith, a council is, unless the contrary is proved, taken to have acted in good faith for the purposes of this section if the advice was furnished, or the thing was done or omitted to be done—

(a) substantially in accordance with the principles contained in the relevant manual most recently notified under subsection (5) at that time, or

(b) substantially in accordance with the principles and mandatory requirements set out in the current coastal management manual under the Coastal Management Act 2016, or

(c) in accordance with a direction under section 14(2) of the Coastal Management Act 2016.

(5) For the purposes of this section, the Minister for Planning may, from time to time, give notification in the Gazette of the publication of—

(a) a manual relating to the management of flood liable land, or

(b) (Repealed) a manual relating to the management of the coastline.

(c) a manual relating to the management of land subject to the risk of bush fire.

The notification must specify where and when copies of the manual may be inspected.

(6) A copy of the manual must be available for public inspection, free of charge, at the office of the council during ordinary office hours.

(7) This section applies to and in respect of—

(a) the Crown, a statutory body representing the Crown and a public or local authority constituted by or under any Act, and

(b) a councillor or employee of a council or any such body or authority, and

(c) a Public Service employee, and

(d) a person acting under the direction of a council or of the Crown or any such body or authority, and

(e) Water NSW, but only with respect to the exercise of its functions in the Sydney catchment area (within the meaning of the Water NSW Act 2014) or the exercise of its functions in any part of the State in connection with the granting of flood work approvals under the Water Management Act 2000,

in the same way as it applies to and in respect of a council.

(8) In this section—

coastal zone has the same meaning as in the Coastal Management Act 2016.

manual includes guidelines.

8 Personal liability

A matter or thing done or omitted to be done by the Project Review Committee, a member of the Project Review Committee or a person acting under the direction of the Project Review Committee does not, if the matter or thing was done or omitted to be done in good faith for the purpose of executing this or any other Act, subject a member or a person so acting personally to any action, liability, claim or demand.