Wednesday 26 October 2022

Apology to North Coast Voices readers

Due to illness North Coast Voices blog will not be posting again until Wednesday, 2 November 2022.

Apologies to both regular readers and browsers.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

STATE OF PLAY NSW 2022: In a changing climate is your local council and the regional planning panel in your area really taking into consideration all state policies, acts & regulations applicable to flooding?


In a changing climate whose effects and negative impacts have been driven home to NSW communities since the mega bushfires of 2019 and the increasingly heavy rainfall events across the state, there is a need for communities to ensure their wellbeing and safety is paramount in the minds of all those making policy and/or planning decisions concerning the local government areas and regions in which they live.

The widespread and catastrophic flooding to date in 2022 highlighting the need to ask this particular question.

Is my local council and, the NSW regional planning panel in my area which has authority to consent to state significant and high dollar value development applications, really obeying all the planning instructions that have been put in place since 2020?

In July 2021, the NSW Government updated its guidance to councils on considering flooding in land-use planning. 

Set out below is the "Flood prone land package" concerned residents, ratepayers and community groups can use as part of their own checklists when trying to ensure that proposed land releases and large-scale development applications have been genuinely assessed against growing flood risks.

Ministers and Members of the NSW Perrottert Coalition Government abandoning ship at March 2023 state election:

And the list is getting longer the closer New South Wales comes to the March 2023 state election.......

Perrottet Government ministers and backbenchers who have announced they will resign at the March 2023 NSW state election

  • Minister for InfrastructureMinister for Cities, Minister for Active Transport & MLA for Pittwater Rob Stokes – in parliament 16 years;

  • Speaker of the House & MLA for Davidson Jonathan O'Dea – in parliament 16 years;

  • Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Fair Trading & MLA for Ryde Victor Dominello – in parliament almost 14.6 years;

  • Minister for Corrections, Minister for Veterans, Minister for Western Sydney & MLA for Parramatta Geoffrey Lee – in parliament 12 years;

  • Transport Minister David Elliott – in parliament 12 years;

  • Lib MLA for South Coast Shelly Hancock – in parliament 20 years;

  • Lib MLA for for Riverstone Kevin Conolly – in parliament 12 years;

  • Lib MLA for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton – in parliament 12 years;

  • Nats MLA for Clarence Chris Gulaptis – in parliament 12 years;

  • Nats MLA for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead – in parliament 12 years;

  • Nats MLA for Oxley Melinda Pavey – in parliament 8 years.

Minister for Health & MLA for Wakehurst Brad Hazzard is rumoured to be considering retirement. Hazzard has been in parliament since March 1991. Retirement confirmed by reports in mainstream media later on morning of 25 October.

Earlier this year Lib MLC Catherine Cusack resigned on a matter of principle after 19 years in parliament and Lib MLC Don Harwin resigned for unstated reasons after 23 years in parliament.

'First Nations women are being murdered at up to 12 times the national average. In some regions, their deaths make up some of the highest homicide rates in the world.’


ABC News, 24 October 2022:

First Nations women are being murdered at up to 12 times the national average. In some regions, their deaths make up some of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Four Corners can reveal at least 315 First Nations women have either gone missing or been murdered or killed in suspicious circumstances since 2000.

But this is an incomplete picture. We will likely never know the true scale of how many First Nations women have been lost over the decades.

This is because there is no agency in Australia keeping count, and there is no standard way of collecting this important data in each state and territory.

Canada calls it a genocide. The United States considers it an epidemic. But here in Australia, we’re only just waking up to the scale of the crisis…..

Read the full article here.

Monday 24 October 2022

MONDAY 24 October 2022: this morning in New South Wales

Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Current Warnings, Monday 24 October 2022


Note: The warning list was valid at 6.35am and is updated by BOM as circumstances changes

Sunday 23 October 2022

YAMBA 2022: There is an eerie fascination in watching a regional planning panel, the local council & property developers argue the case for new large subdivisions in a town which is drowning. How many people have to die before all three tiers of government turn and face the realities of climate change?

"The climate of NSW is changing due to global warming. The effects of climate change on the people and environment of NSW are expected to become more pronounced as the climate continues to change over this century." [NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA) 2021]

In or around 2021 the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) published a table of monthly sea levels for Yamba, a small coastal town in north-east NSW, for the years 1986 to 2020.  

Included as a footnote to this table was the following 



Mean sea level = 0.952 (Average monthly means = 0.951) Maximum recorded level of 2.330 metres at 0900 hours 23/05/2009 Minimum recorded level of -0.138 metres at 1500 hours 02/11/2002 Standard deviation of the observations = 0.3949 metres Skewness = 0.1464

[my yellow highlighting]

The CSIRO "State of the Climate Report 2020" observed that sea levels are currently rising at 3.5 cm (0.035m) per decade. While NSW EPA "NSW State of the Environment Report 2021" stated that the states sea level was 3.5mm (0.035) and rising, with the Port Kembla gauge showing a mean sea level rise of around 10cm (0.1m) since 1991. 

So what does that sea level creep mean for Yamba, a town only two months away from possibly entering a fourth calendar year of increased rainfall exacerbated by La Niña events? A

 town which has experienced Lower Clarence River floods in

 December 2020, March & December 2021 and February-

March 2022. A town situated in a coastal estuary zone within

 the south-east quarter of the Australian mainland and,

 therefore with a recognised high risk of ocean warming/rising

 sea-level. [ NSW Government, Adapt NSW, 2022]

Using the latest inappropriate development application for 6.65ha in the middle of the town - currently before Clarence Valley Council and the Northern Regional Planning Panel - as a constant point the following maps show how rising sea height in the ocean off Yamba may affect local residents.


With a sea-level rise compounding increased rainfall this is potentially what Park Ave and surrounding streets will look like in another 10-30 years at a mean sea-level which has increased by another est. 3.5cm to 10.5cm.

2030: an approximation of the effect of an expected sea-level increase of 3.5cm above 2020 Yamba mean sea-level
Click on image to enlarge

North Coast Voices readers will notice that in 8 years time sea water is across Park Ave-Shores Drive intersection for metres, the one road "Parkside" residents can use to leave the lifestyle complex. This possibly will occur at high tide

 each day.

2050: an approximation of the effect of an expected sea-level increase of 10.5cm above 2020 Yamba mean sea-level
Click on image to enlarge

By 28 years time in 2050 the lifestyle complex is still relatively intact but has no road access to the rest of Yamba, given the entire length of Shores Drive is under water. The local shopping mall is inundated. Police and ambulance cannot enter the lifestyle village from its single access road. 

In the decades after 2050: an approximation of the effect of a projected sea-level increase of 1.5m above 2020 Yamba mean sea-level
Click on image to enlarge

Sometime after 2050 "Parkside Over 50s Lifestyle Community" becomes an ephemeral tidal island in an enlarged estuary.

It appears that the rot set in at the Bureau of Meteorology within a few months of Scott Morrison becoming prime minister and sadly when BOM was needed most it is alleged in had become highly dysfunctional

There absolutely needs to be a royal commission into what happened at Lismore. I saw grad mets barely off course in charge of things they would never have been in charge of up until that point. Lismore happened right in the short-staffing period. We go into that event, everyone is already fatigued and working long hours.” [The Saturday Paper, 22 October 2022]

The Saturday Paper, 22 October 2022:

The workplace culture at the Bureau of Meteorology is so toxic that a man was hospitalised twice for psychiatric care, another had a heart attack while working extreme overtime, and was asked to come back earlier than a doctor advised, and at least five more staff took stress leave because of panic attacks and anxiety regarding management oversight.

More than 20 staff have left the media and communications division at the BoM in the past 18 months. The entire marketing team at the agency was “bloodlet” and removed during a restructure and rebranding effort that consumed the time and resources of the weather office during a period of intensifying calamity relating to climate change and natural disasters. Senior meteorologists have also left.

Since June last year, the bureau has spent more than $260,000 with Elm Communications Canberra Pty Ltd, just trying to plug gaps in its public affairs workforce.

Although many of the concerns relate to the media division, meteorologists and other staff have complained of “the severe dysfunction” in this area infecting other parts of the service. Gag orders have been issued to prevent forecasters from speaking to journalists unless their comments are pre-approved. Media managers have explicitly banned the mention of climate change in connection with severe weather events.

In one case during major New South Wales flooding in March last year, an edict was issued that BoM forecasters and other specialists were not to speak to any media after a meteorologist was accused of “fluffing” his lines on climate change.

A spokesperson for the BoM denies this.

In addition to the above concerns, The Saturday Paper can reveal the Commonwealth agency admitted some months ago to staff that it has not been paying overtime correctly and has so far failed to reimburse employees. Indeed, it stopped communicating with them in August about the issue.

The bureau says, in a response to The Saturday Paper, that a “discrepancy” was identified and “an audit of overtime payments is currently under way and all payments made dating from 1 June 2021 are being reviewed”.

The Saturday Paper has spoken with 20 current and former staff members at the bureau to establish a distressing and farcial account of a government agency’s response to a changing climate.

Details in this account that do not appear within quotation marks have nevertheless been provided by individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals…..

There is so much focus on rebranding efforts like this and all of this window dressing and, in the meantime, the staff are really struggling to get the work done. We have lost so many people due to the [public service] transition to national production.”

Under these reforms, which began after the appointment of Andrew Johnson as director of the BoM, regional forecasting centres in every state and territory have been shuttered. State managers have been sacked and a national desk has been created instead. Johnson has pushed the project with fervour. The new branding, complete with public insistence that the Bureau of Meteorology be referred to respectfully as the Bureau, was, according to sources at the BoM, “completely driven by him”……

The Saturday Paper can reveal that the planned name change and new “corporate presence” began more than three years ago and cost far more than has been reported. In December 2018, the BoM paid almost $90,000 to brand specialists The Contenders for work on the new “positioning project” between then and April 2019. When a new general manager of communications – Emma Liepa – took over in April 2020, she “canned the project” and restarted it using her preferred contractor, The C Word Communications Agency Pty Ltd, owned and operated by Jack Walden. The BoM has characterised this contract as a “preliminary analysis” of perceptions about the agency and its “position in the marketplace” and not part of the “Brand project”.

Walden’s The C Word agency won a $70,000 contract in September last year in a “limited tender” to progress this project. Walden is now a senior manager of communications delivery at the BoM, having started in late November last year.

The Saturday Paper understands that Walden was hired as an EL2 “upper”, the same pay band as his boss Liepa, and is an ongoing public service employee. Walden also worked with Liepa in her previous role at the Victorian Healthcare Association. The Saturday Paper is not suggesting there is anything inappropriate in his employment.

In this case, a conflict of interest was advised,” a BoM spokesperson said.

There was no overlap between the work as a consultant and work when he [Walden] commenced as an employee with the Bureau.”

Internally, the rebranding has been prosecuted with fervour by Liepa and her colleagues but resisted and mocked by more junior staff. This is at odds with a BoM statement that says the sentiment, and feedback, from employees has been “overwhelmingly positive”.

Recently Andrew Johnson launched the new 2022-2027 strategy and rounded off the presentation by telling us all that we had to print off the strategy, read it and he would be testing us if he bumped into us in the office,” a staff member says. “He was dead serious.”

A forecaster who cannot be identified because they still work with the BoM said the “reaction around me on shift over the last few weeks to the new branding announcements has been somewhere between exasperated laughter and anger”.

They continue, “That this is prioritised by management, over severe long-term understaffing of mets [meteorologists] – seemingly not of management and consultants – combined with a huge top-to-bottom restructure of the public service hitting the really hairy stages.

All of this at the tail end of three La Niñas in a row with the potential for most of the east coast to flood so easily. Meteorologists are tired and overworked. The public reaction today was honestly wonderful and heartwarming. I’m so happy the public saw the bullshit instantly.”

Neither Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek, whose portfolio includes the BoM, nor her office, was aware the agency was about to launch its controversial edict and new look publicly in the middle of a flooding crisis across Victoria. When she demanded an urgent briefing, the response from senior bureau managers was “cagey” and “unsatisfactory”, according to people familiar with the exchange. Internally, BoM staff were told that they were to move full steam ahead and that the minister’s office was happy.

But what the minister’s office did not know, because the BoM did not tell them, was that the full cost of this rebranding was closer to $750,000, with some of that cost completely unnecessary after the banishing of The Contenders and early work done by that firm.

When Plibersek’s people demanded a full list of contracts, this was not mentioned. The Saturday Paper has confirmed this separately using information provided by concerned employees. Bizarrely, the BoM hired EY Sweeney on a $93,000 contract in March to conduct market research regarding the rebrand. What the consultants found was that just 15 per cent of people recognised the Bureau of Meteorology as “the Bureau” – the preferred name for brand recognition in the now-failed repositioning. More than 60 per cent, however, associated “BoM” with the agency.

What matters, according to every staff member who spoke for this piece, is that this side quest isn’t just a bad look. While these dramatic restructures and fiddly public relations exercises unfolded, some of the worst flooding in Australian history happened in northern NSW.

Residents in Lismore in particular were trapped after catastrophic flooding appeared to catch officials off guard. While the SES, itself struggling with a new centralisation plan, is responsible for issuing evacuation orders, they rely on information from the national meteorologists and hydrologists at the bureau.

The BoM went into this PST [Public Sector Transformation] understaffed, and only lost countless more staff during PST, not realising that not everyone wants to uproot their lives and move to Melbourne or Brisbane,” a meteorologist said.

There absolutely needs to be a royal commission into what happened at Lismore. I saw grad mets barely off course in charge of things they would never have been in charge of up until that point. Lismore happened right in the short-staffing period. We go into that event, everyone is already fatigued and working long hours.”

At this time – when a meteorologist was due to speak at a press conference about the unfolding flooding emergency in NSW, next to Premier Dominic Perrottet – there was a particular sensitivity within the agency about the warnings provided to the public. This forecaster was told they could speak only from pre-approved lines.

A separate source, who is no longer with the BoM, told The Saturday Paper that the organisation was “down 24 or 25” meteorologists and there were “no meteorologists in management”. The source said good people were slowly forced out, especially meteorologists: “There is such a strangled culture there now.”

After being appointed by the former Coalition government to head the BoM, Johnson set about an aggressive reform program, parts of which former employees concede were much needed. But it happened so fast it caused serious issues across the business.

The rate of change, ineffective change, that has happened has been a huge problem because there are so many conflicting priorities, that the bureau basically just ground to a halt,” a source says.

All the money just got funnelled into [PST] and squandered through massive use of contractors and people who didn’t have core knowledge of the bureau, so it took lots of time to ramp up to speed and the like.

Really important projects like ours just got buried and not funded because all the money just got funnelled off into these other areas.”

One of the projects that was delayed and underfunded was the upgrade of the bureau’s warning systems – a multi-part program with many moving parts – which was left in disarray.

As science was censored or relegated to the sideline and messages became more tightly controlled, the culture at the BoM deteriorated even further. In July and August this year, tens of thousands of dollars were paid to the conflict resolution firm Momentum, which promised to mediate workplace disputes and teach staff how to get along…….

The full article can read here.

Friday 21 October 2022

No sign of a break in widespread rain across NSW and road damage toll mounts


The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 2022:

Holidaymakers heading into regional NSW over the next few months have been told to brace themselves for longer journeys on more dangerous roads after a year of record rain and flooding.

The severe weather has caused billions of dollars in damage to local roads across the state, bringing regional councils to “their knees” as they struggle with repairs, and heaping pressure on the state government to intervene…..

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said the damage to roads across the state posed a safety risk heading into the summer and councils needed more state and federal funding to ensure their roads were safe after the rain.

The roads are not great, they are littered with potholes and are severely damaged, but also roadworks will be taking place, which means people will need to slow down for those as well,” he said.

There are safety risks when it comes to roads that are so badly damaged. It is easier to lose control, especially on high-speed roads.

It’s going to be a challenging period and it’s not going to get better until the rain stops.”

The NRMA roadside assistance team was receiving almost twice as many call-outs for tyre and wheel damage in NSW compared with last year.

NSW Farmers fears the state of regional roads will impede the harvest of this year’s winter crops, due to start in NSW in the next few weeks, because heavy vehicles and machinery will struggle to get to farms and then get the crops to market…...

Local Government NSW said some councils were now spending up to 90 per cent of their capital works budgets on road repairs and this year’s rain had caused $2.5-$3 billion worth of damage to local roads.

It reiterated its call for the state government to act on its 2019 election promise and take over 15,000 kilometres of country roads owned and repaired by councils.

A spokesman said the government’s failure to do so had “heaped more pain on many regional and rural councils, who are financially on their knees due to rising repair costs”.

Almost 80 councils have identified 500 roads they want the state government to reclassify or take over. So far, the government has said it will take on five roads – totalling 391 kilometres – identified in a priority audit, but the transfer of ownership will take time. An independent panel is reviewing the remaining nominations……

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) expects this current bout of rain to continue falling over the Northern Rivers region at least until Thursday 27 October.

BOM advice as of 19 October 2022 was:

Significant rain and thunderstorms are continuing to spread across eastern and south-eastern Australia and will continue into next week.

Rain and thunderstorms with heavy falls over South Australia and Queensland are due to spread into northern and western New South Wales towards the South Australian and New South Wales border on Wednesday night.

Severe thunderstorms are also likely across Queensland and northern New South Wales, with heavy rainfall leading to flash flooding, damaging winds and large hail. Heavy falls across inland South Australia could also lead to flash flooding.

Thursday will see widespread thunderstorms across eastern Queensland, New South Wales, northern Victoria, and far eastern parts of South Australia, with isolated heavy falls.

Inland Queensland and New South Wales are also likely to see some severe thunderstorms with heavy rain, damaging winds and large hail, with giant hail also possible.

Further rainfall in coming days for southern inland Queensland, on and west of the ranges in New South Wales and northern Victoria is likely to lead to widespread moderate to major flooding impacting already flood affected communities.

On Friday and leading into Saturday widespread showers and thunderstorms will continue for eastern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, as humid and unstable conditions persist across eastern and south-eastern Australia.

Severe thunderstorms are likely across eastern Queensland, New South Wales, and parts of Victoria, bringing more large hail, damaging winds, and heavy rainfall.

Severe thunderstorms are likely across eastern Queensland, New South Wales, and parts of Victoria, bringing more large hail, damaging winds, and heavy rainfall.

Widespread rainfall totals of 25 to 50 mm are likely across South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria this week and into the weekend, with 50 to 100 mm falls possible in southern inland Queensland, on and west of the ranges in New South Wales.

This rain and storm activity will lead to renewed river level rises and widespread moderate to major flooding across southern Queensland, inland New South Wales, and possibly northern Victoria…...

For all the latest warnings see National Warnings Summary.


Australian Bureau of Meteorology, rain map, issued 7:43am AED Thursday 20 October 2022

Thursday 20 October 2022

How in late 2021 then Prime Minister #ScottyFromMarketing Morrison spent $220,296 his government couldn't afford on a BOM logo change & creating 9 new Twitter handles

Over four months since the nation rejected the Morrison Coalition Government, sending is members to the Opposition benches, the poor decisions of then prime minister Scott Morrison and his cabinet ministers are still coming to light. 

In this case Morrison was helped along by his then minister for the environment Sussan Ley, now ensconced as Deputy Leader of the Opposition and probably hoping no-one remembers that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) was in her ministerial portfolio when this downright silly decision was made.

The Guardian, 19 October 2022:

Revealed: BoM rebranding and logo cost $220,000 as Plibersek shoots down weather bureau’s name change

The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, has shot down the Bureau of Meteorology’s request for people not to call it “the BoM”, saying Australians should be free to call it whatever they like as the full cost of the rebrand has been revealed.

The BoM rebrand cost more than $220,000, including cash to update the organisation’s visual style and logo, conduct research, develop pull-up banners and support media engagement.

My focus and the focus of the BoM should be on weather, not branding,” Plibersek said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the agency formerly known as the BoM asked media organisations to only refer to it by its full name, or shorthand as “the Bureau” – not the widely used initialism BoM. The media-wide alert sparked derision online after it was discovered that the Bureau appeared to have failed to reserve the Twitter accounts it had announced it planned to move to.

The letters BOM seen over a satellite view outline of Australia

Guardian Australia understands the change, detailed in an email bearing a new bureau logo, was part of a wider rebrand that commenced under the previous Coalition government and had been under way for some 18 months.

It was reported yesterday that a $69,300 contract had been awarded in September 2021 to Melbourne’s C Word Communications Agency for “branding of product naming services” and “brand implementation”.

The full cost of the rebranding exercise was $220,296.

Plibersek’s office said The C Word’s contract covered “communication and implementation planning support”. Another $118,177 was awarded to another agency, Era-Co, for brand strategy and design services, including visual style, brand position and logo, as well as research.

Another $32,819 was spent on “implementation costs” for the rebrand, including development of pull-up banners to support community engagement and media engagement for each state and territory, as well as design support to update collateral, systems and tools.

Era-Co was granted a $50,000 contract for “brand framework” for the Bureau of Meteorology, according to a notice published on the AusTender website in September 2020; then another $80,000 contract for “visual identity development”, according to a notice published in December 2020; and $17,820 for “design services”, in a notice published in August 2021.

The C Word’s $69,3000 contract for “brand implementation” was published September 2021.

I have asked for the information about the full cost of the whole rebrand project, which was undertaken under the previous government,” Plibersek said.

I’ve released that publicly. Now it’s time to let the Bureau of Meteorology get on with what it does best – predict the weather to help keep Australians safe.”

The environment minister said on Tuesday she did not “quite understand” why the bureau commenced a rebrand to update its name and logo, saying she was not focused on those factors during the severe flooding across much of the eastern seaboard. On Wednesday she appeared to rebuff the bureau’s calls to be referred to by another name.

The Bureau of Meteorology, the BoM – Australians will make up their own minds about what they call it,” Plibersek said.

What matters is accurate and timely weather information for communities, particularly during severe weather like we’re experiencing right now. That’s where my focus is. People are hurting.”…...

Several new Twitter handles proposed by the bureau, including @TheBureau_NSW and @TheBureau_AU, were quickly snapped up by ordinary users on Tuesday. A Bureau spokesperson said on Tuesday it was “working closely with Twitter to rectify this, in the meantime, all existing BOM Twitter handles remain active”.

By Wednesday, all those accounts were either suspended or free to use, having been vacated by the users who had parked on those handles…... [my yellow highlighting]

The Guardian, 18 October 2022:

The name change – which has been broadly ridiculed, and criticised for its rollout as many Australians face devastating floods – was, in part, driven by Jack Walden, according to insiders. Walden appears to have won the contract for the consultancy company, and been hired by the Bureau shortly afterwards.

In September 2021, the Bureau awarded a $69,300 contract to the C Word Communications Agency for “branding of product naming services and “brand implementation”.

C Word’s “chief communicator” until December 2021 was Jack Walden.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Walden started as senior manager, communications delivery at the Bureau in November 2021. The crossover in his employment dates has not been explained.

Guardian Australia understands the rebrand was broadly unpopular among existing staff, but that the Bureau insisted that not only it be implemented, but that staff only use the new terms.

One insider said they were made to use the new term, and another said they were treated “like naughty schoolchildren” if they slipped up and referred to the BoM instead.

Plibersek told Guardian Australia that “during this time of severe weather and flood disaster, I’m not focused on the name of the agency”.

I am focused on making sure the Bureau of Meteorology is providing the most accurate and timely information to communities affected by floods,” she said.

The rebrand commenced under the previous government for reasons I don’t quite understand.”……




By late afternoon on Thursday 20 October 2022, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) had walked back on its rebranding demands.

The Bureau of Meteorology has backed down on its planned rebranding, saying people can still refer to the weather agency as “the BoM” – or anything else they like. The backflip follows the BoM’s announcement on Tuesday that it wanted media agencies to refer to it as “the Bureau” or its full name rather than “BoM”.....
following the subsequent public outcry and ridicule over the mooted move, the organisation said it would now stick with the BoM moniker. “The community is welcome to refer to the Bureau in any way they wish, including referring to us as the BoM,” the spokesperson said.