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Civic Planning And The Spectre Of The Flood

  click on images to enlarge Severe weather warning for Tasmania including damaging winds and high tides Given that Launceston is located at...

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Civic Planning And The Spectre Of The Flood


  click on images to enlarge Severe weather warning for Tasmania including damaging winds and high tides Given that Launceston is located at...


click on images to enlarge

Given that Launceston is located at the confluence of a tidal estuary and two rivers Launcestonians should be able to take Wednesday's King Tide and a relatively minor flood event in their stride. Yet in should alarm the city's planners and alderpeople but it seems not.

Around and about in the underground 'newsrooms' the news is that the 'punters' are speculating upon what might have been – what could have been – in this or that scenario. None were all that far away from what was right there with the levy being reported as being just 30cm away from being breached and this place being flooded, and over there the water came much closer than expected, and so on. Clearly down at Town Hall there was a deal less complacency than there might have been. Had it not been for the looming council elections there might well have been no reason to worry at all.

It is bad enough to be distracted by such concerns, and even well into a term, it is as well to "bite your tongue" for fear of "frightening the horses". However at election time it is worth a politician's time to remember that, as someone said somewhere, rats survive so well because they are rats. They know when to keep quiet and they know when to squeal. If one had payed  close enough attention to this week's tides and flood it should have served as a salutary warning.

Today's Launcestonians have been left a 'colonial legacy' that no matter how much we want to look away and think of England the city suffers from serial civic planning follies. Just because something has been done, and it's worked, well sort of, up until now, it doesn't mean that it was ever enough. This week it was 'just enough' again yet the 'finger crossing' folly persists.

As Lismore (Far Nth NSW) [LINK] discovered to its chagrin in March 2017 when you look away and cross your fingers a flood is just as likely to come along and defy your best wishes and deliver a disaster. Lismore and Launceston share geographical circumstance [LINK] in so much as they sit at the confluence of extensive river catchments. Yes, Lismore's rainfall is higher than Launceston's and yes it does flood there more often but the crossing of fingers and the 'she'll-be-right' world view wound up costing that community 'zillions', the extent of which is still being assessed.

So, the lessons are there as to why local governance has an obligation to do the due diligence based local knowledge when it comes to floods. For a very long time Launceston's civic planners and 'governors' have come up wanting. Sorry, this is not what you want to hear when you've just got away with past mistakes and you're looking to keep your allowances, and you have so, so much invested in the status quo, and the upcoming elections are so very close.

Lismore's university is on the city's high ground and the idea of moving it to the CBD is not on the agenda. This university sees more profitable ways to develop their operation in their current location taking note of their geography. Interestingly, Lismore's university campus is about the same distanced away from its CBD as is Launceston's.

Conversely, the University of Tasmania and the City of Launceston's aldermen insist that the economics stack up for moving their operation onto a tidal flat. Also, it seems that the failing 'community representatives' think that its worth doing it and slugging its ratepayers more, and more on the strength of shonky advice most of which was hatched 'elsewhere' . For the most part the hatching was done by 'blowin bureaucrats' who have already moved elsewhere with their pockets full.

Just who is doing, or has done, the due diligence and why should anyone believe them? One also wonders why the 'business case' for a spurious move that would need extraordinary expenditure is consistently 'due soon'.  However, there are additional planning issues that are more complex than any of this suggests.




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Civic Planning And The Spectre Of The Flood
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