BBC BLOGS - Nick Bryant's Australia
« Previous | Main | Next »

Floods: The fall-out

Nick Bryant | 12:10 UK time, Friday, 21 January 2011

Many foreigners with only a cursory understanding of this country might have been mightily impressed by the performance these past few weeks of Australia's new female prime minister. But those who follow events more closely will have realized they were watching Premier Anna Bligh rather than Prime Minister Julia Gillard - Queensland's Giuliani rather than Canberra's Julia.

Julia Gillard (rear) and Anna Bligh in Bundaberg on 31 December 2010

The crisis has illustrated how, more than six months after taking the top job, Gillard struggles still to find her prime ministerial voice. Throughout, her statements have sounded weirdly over-rehearsed and emotionally artificial when all that was required was authenticity.

Canberra insiders who have known Gillard for years say that the prime minister is almost unrecognisable from the fun-loving politician whose personal charm, combined with her factional smarts, helped explain her rapid rise through Labor's ranks. There is something unnatural and robotic about her public pronouncements right now - or, put another way, something Ruddesque - which again is fiercely at odds with the chirpy self-confidence of the pre-prime ministerial past. It has been rather like watching a Sheffield Shield cricketer, known for aggressive strokeplay and the occasional flamboyant shot, making a very uncomfortable test debut in which he struggles to hit the ball of the square and is interested only in dogged survival. Certainly, she has been scratching around for runs.

The paradox is that the floods crisis presented an opportunity for Julia Gillard to assert herself as a strong national leader, much like John Howard in the aftermath of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. But she has been overshadowed by Anna Bligh, whose position as Queensland premier looked fragile before the waters started rising, and another Queenslander, Kevin Rudd, who has also been a high-profile presence in the low-lying suburbs of Brisbane.

The conventional wisdom is that Julia Gillard's prime ministership will now come to be made or broken by how she deals with the reconstruction of Queensland and the towns in Victoria which have also been hit by flooding.

Determined to meet her election commitment to balance the federal budget by the 2012-2013 fiscal year, Gillard has said that spending cuts are inevitable and that the imposition of a one-off flood levy to taxpayers is a real possibility. The conservative opposition is against a flood tax, and argues instead that the savings should come from scrapping the proposed national broadband network and replacing it with a much cheaper alternative.

Gillard's unswerving commitment to balancing the budget may well be based on politics rather than economics. To avoid the charge of being old-style tax and spenders, modern-day Labor Prime Ministers often like to present themselves as deficit hawks. Some economists claim, however, that Gillard is far too obsessed with the surplus and that the national priority should be rebuilding Queensland, even if it means maintaining a public debt for a few years longer. What do you think? If you are Australian, would you be prepared to pay a one-off flood tax?

Yesterday in the grocers, I had my first post-floods "goodness that's expensive moment", and we are starting to get a much clearer sense of the economic cost of the floods. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences reckons it will cost the agricultural sector A$500-600m, with consumers bearing some of the cost through inflated fruit and vegetable prices. Coal exports could be hit to the tune of $2.5bn, because of the inundation of mines and disruption of the rail services leading to Gladstone, Queensland's biggest coal port.

Meanwhile, economists from ANZ bank reckon the clean-up bill could top A$20bn, which equates to about 1.5% of national GDP. Some 28,000 homes will need to be reconstructed, which will cost some A$8bn alone. The figures, like the scale of the flooding, are staggering.

It may be that the economic effect is nowhere near as catastrophic as once feared. Indeed, some economists believe that the Australian could do with another stimulus package, which is essentially what the flood reconstruction programme will be. Again, I'd be intrigued to hear your thoughts.


or register to comment.

  • 1. At 12:59pm on 21 Jan 2011, Euloroo wrote:

    You're up late Nick. Are you on baby watch?! the big question in this fiercely parochial nation is should the other states be bailing out queensland? (immediate aid excepted, of course)

    I moved from london to sydney two years ago on the understanding that the lifestyle here was vastly superior. but the reality (other than the sunshine which made a welcome appearance today) is very different. sydney has huge social problems and woeful infrastructure yet, a bit like london, has historically been expected to bankroll the rest of the country. central sydney still contributes a staggering 25% of australia's GDP despite the scale of agriculture and mining.

    i agree about gillard. for the last couple of weeks all she's done is read from the autocue.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 1:05pm on 21 Jan 2011, Euloroo wrote:

    btw you could also have compared gillard to an ODI english cricketer. bring back alistair cook!

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 1:33pm on 21 Jan 2011, Sharon wrote:


    As a newcomer you cannot be expected to understand the historial reasons why Qld attracts much more funding than Sydney at the moment - it is purely a historical blip. For decades Qld suffered underinvestment and had the social indicators to prove - below average educational attainment and household incomes. Only since the 1990s did the private investment and population growth begin to soar and the public infrastructure struggled to cope, hence the recent growth in federal funding to allow the infrastructure to catch up. And of course some would justify that given Qld is a mining powerhouse contributing a substantial amount of company tax to the federal coffers, therefore it should get its fair share of the income.

    But I certainly understand the other state's relucantance to see flood recovery money being handed over to the Qld Government with no strings attached. Whatever funding model ends up being used, I believe there much be a bilateral agreement requiring the Qld Government to reform its planning laws.

    To be fair, Brisbane City Council has been very good in regulating development in the 1974 flood area, restricting new homes and schools etc to areas not flooded, although they cannot do much about the existing housing stock pre 1974. But the other councils have been completely negligent - putting developers interests over residents and business owners. Some might say "buyer beware" but anyone who knows anything about flooding will point out more and more development in the floodplain puts everyone at risk, including those in existing homes not previously flooded.

    It's the Qld Government's reluctance to be involved in "trival planning" matters to blame here. The politicans are obsessed with the grandiose schemes they fail to understand the small decisions repeated over and over have big consequences. They must be held to account.

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 1:45pm on 21 Jan 2011, Cassandra wrote:

    Well Nick in my view the words infrastructure and commodities will be global buzz words for the next 10 years.

    I hope the flood clean up and its impact on commodity exports generates further discussion about the need for infrastructure investment - e.g. the need to spend large amounts on flood mitigation and drought protection.

    In a world where demand for commodities will increase (at least over the medium term) there will be an increase in both prices and investment. The challenge for Australia is how to guarantee sufficient investment to increase commodity exports to take advantage of increased demand and costs. This includes road, rail, ports and even massive flood mitigation and drought protection measures. How much of this investment is to be paid by the private sector and how much by the public sector? How much foreign money is Australia going to allow in to bankroll these investments?

    In addition to infrastructure for the commodity industries there is also a need to get more money spent on the social and economic infrastructure to ensure the big cities are efficient and deliver from a lifestyle perspective. Sydney and Brisbane are particularly bad in this respect. In part because of the incompetence of successive Labor governments. Query how this investment is going to be funded - inevitably by greater use of PPP but also perhaps in tapping into the massive superannuation funds.

    And don't get me wrong the infrastructure in the UK is even worse - roads, rail, airports and sewerage, water and electricity networks are down and in massive need of investment. The question in the UK is how are we going to pay for all of the necessary investment. We do not have any equivalent of Australia's mining industry or its superannuation funds?

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 3:43pm on 21 Jan 2011, ehs wrote:

    Another great blog Nick!

    I certainly agree that Julia Gillard has been completely overshadowed by her Queensland counterpart. Politics is a tough place for a woman to be, but Anna Bligh has shown a real 'human' side to herself in her reactions to the devastation that her state has suffered. I know that these situations are often used to score points in politics- you mentioned the Port Arthur Massacre but the children overboard saga also comes to mind- but nevertheless I would much rather watch an interview with Anna Bligh than our current Prime Minister, whose accent makes me wince any day of the week (and I'm Australian), but coupled with her current wooden/ice goddess demeanor it is barely watchable. If she is unable to convey some sort of emotion during this, what on earth will it take? (Note to mother nature: that was not an invitation).

    I also can't help but think that the Opposition has missed a trick here. A perfect opportunity for Tony Abbott to show his human side rather than cheap point scoring. The irony being that showing sincerity and empathy towards those affected would score more points than bringing up the old Broadband argument.

    Regarding the flood tax, I am not currently living in Australia so feel a bit like I don't have a right to comment, but cannot resist to add to the debate. For that, I apologise.

    I'm sure that like others, I am interested to know how a 'flood tax' would be implemented. I imagine it would have to be a % of earnings (different for each income tax bracket) as a flat dollar amount would be seen as unfair. I haven't seen any mention of how much it would be either. My only concern is that it may set a precedent for the future. Heaven forbid we have another cause for another 'disaster tax', but once it has been done once, any decision to or indeed not to impose it again will be controversial. Once it has been forced upon tax payers who arguably will not directly benefit from it, they will naturally expect the same in return. I guess one can also argue that we already contribute to these types of rescue packages through our normal tax system, but it not quite the same as having to pay extra, is it?

    I also wonder what impact it would have on the willingness of people to donate money to charity? If people think that they are going to be forced to contribute anyway, will they want to dig into their pockets to support charities, no matter how good the charity's intention? Recent examples of not only the Queensland floods, but the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami show that Australians are generally willing to reach into their pockets. But imposing a tax takes away the ability to decide if and how much to contribute. I am just not sure whether this is a good thing.

    This brings me to another point: how is the tax going to be distributed? If it is a Federal tax (which I understand it is), does all of it go to the State government to do with it what it pleases, or will the Federal Government stipulate what projects will be funded as a condition to the tax? Are there going to be private companies or indeed charities bidding for contracts and grants for projects, or will they all be state run?

    The other thing is, if the government does decide to go ahead with the tax, then Australians are going to want to see real progress or 'bang for their buck'. We do not want to have a situation such as the one in Haiti where twelve months on it still looks like a disaster zone, with thousands still in temporary 'accommodation' (a term that does not seem right when describing what the poor Haitians are living in).

    This is a little beside the point but in the interest of honesty, I must also admit that, being a Sydney-sider, I would certainly be jealous of all of the new 'bells and whistles' that taxpayers' money would buy. But perhaps that is just the old QLD/NSW rivalry bubbling to the surface.I just hope that Queensland are better at managing their finances than NSW! But that is a debate for another day...

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 10:36pm on 21 Jan 2011, Euloroo wrote:

    the grass is always greener cassandra - incredibly britain really doesn't have worse infrastructure than australia.

    sharon touches on an issue that my collegue (a middle aged environmental planner with extensive experience in NSW and QLD) pointed out yesterday. there has been unfettered development along the brisbane river that has resulted in far more properties being inundated than 1974 despite the fact that water levels were about a metre lower. he is convinced that vested interests at the Queensland State government level have largely contributed.

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 00:25am on 22 Jan 2011, Cassandra wrote:

    Euroloo - You are right the World Economic Forum ranked the UK 33 in the world for infrastructure and 12 overall for global competitiveness. Australia was ranked 34 in the world for infrastructure and 16 overall for global competitiveness.

    So I guess neither country can be terribly happy about their infrastructure.

    My question who is going to pay for the improvements? In Australia it seemed to me it would be the mining industry and possibly the superannuation funds. The problem with the UK is that so much effort over the next 5-10 years is going to need to go to paying off the budget deficit.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 01:34am on 22 Jan 2011, Nancy wrote:

    Nick is so right about Gillard's poor performance on the flood crisis. Her speech on the next day after the flood hit Queensland sounded more like a teacher reading a sad story to a primary school class rather than from a leader of the country. Many business people are already stuggling after the last couple interest rate rises, another round of tax levy will run them out of business. NBN is an expensive white elephant that the government should scrap to save the money. It's too costly to build a full fibre network across a big massive land like Australia, there are cheaper alternatives as technology are changing so fast. I support mining tax because part of the wealth from under the ground should be shared among common people, not just the giant corporation. Government should cut some unnecessary generous spending instead of putting up more taxes when the food prices are soaring.

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 03:51am on 22 Jan 2011, PeterD wrote:

    EDITOR, the following post is related to the Blog "Ending the diplomatic neglect" and in response to post #36. Unfortunately, a comment block does not now appear to enter this post even though that blog is still open. Since #36 contains erroneous information on a very sensitive subject, I'm therefore posting on this Blog - "Floods: The fall-out". If you wish to delete this paragraph and transfer the following post to the correct blog, please do so. Thank you.

    36 Greg Warner

    The point of my post, which you conveniently ignore, was to refute the erroneous and OFFENSIVE assertion of Treaclebeak that the British government told Australia “to more or less get lost in 1942.”

    I believe my 34 achieves this. The evidence presented clearly shows that Britain paid a very high price in both blood and treasure in the SE Asian theatre between December 1941 and March 1942. During this same period, Atlantic convoys were being decimated, the aerial bombardment of the UK (which I personally experienced) continued, the most powerful military machine in the world was only 22 miles off its coast, the Malta convoys were experiencing horrendous losses in sustaining the defence of that brave little island, its forces were heavily engaged in North Africa and it was significantly ramping up its own efforts in the aerial bombardment of Germany. On top of all that it was engaged in a brutal fighting retreat in Burma, unfortunately without its 18th Division which had been wasted by being sent to Singapore at the insistence of Curtin, who then refused to assign to Burma even some of the Australian troops from the two divisions being withdrawn from North Africa.

    “but I do wish you were not so one-eyed about the past.”

    A personal slur and a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. I invite anyone to click “Greg Warner” and “PeterD” on the website to get our respective user profiles, spend some time scrolling through past posts and then decide which of us is the most “one-eyed about the past”.

    ..."During the Malaya-Singapore campaign as a whole, the 8th Division suffered 73% of Allied deaths in battle, even though they comprised only 14% of the Allied forces".

    I’m disappointed you would make such a clearly erroneous statistical claim; the same as used by Wollemi some months ago. As I’ve stated before on this site, Wikipedia can be a useful source of research but care should be taken to ensure that key statements are backed up by valid references. Try the following reference from your own government’s Australian War Memorial site:

    This cites 1798 Australian deaths out of about 8700 total deaths (the cited casualty level minus those who were obviously alive went they went into captivity). This makes about 21%, a big shift from your claimed 73%!

    “On Rabaul, the 716 men of the 8th Division were attacked by 20,000 Japanese figure it out.”

    The Australian forces on Rabaul totalled 1400 men which included 716 from the 8th Division. The Japanese invading force comprised 5000 men ……you figure it out!

    Supported by the Australian War Memorial reference:

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 04:26am on 22 Jan 2011, Euloroo wrote:

    Peter, clearly you feel strongly about the issue but this has echoes of the punch up scene in Blazing Saddles!

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 05:56am on 22 Jan 2011, PeterD wrote:

    10 Euroloo

    Too right I feel strongly about this issue because I experienced WWII and the long period of post-war austerity personally, and close relations were in combat with the British armed forces and receiving a pittance compared with their colleagues from Australasia, Canada and the USA. As a child I experienced numerous air raids in London, culminating in our home being badly damaged by a V2 rocket in late 1944. The house was made temporarily inhabitable by a prop comprising large wooden beams supporting the back wall. We had to wait until the summer of 1949 before proper repairs were made. In addition the rocket damaged the water mains, and I came down with a severe case of yellow jaundice from contaminated water.

    As long as muck continues to periodically appear on this site unfairly disparaging the British in WWII then I shall continue to contest it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 09:34am on 22 Jan 2011, John Roundhill wrote:

    A great blog, many thanks.
    You mention that 28,000 homes need reconstruction, but last night I thought I heard on the ABC that 5,000 homes in QLD had water above the floorboards. That seems a low number and I have being trying to check it all day. 28,000 seems more likely. May I ask where you got that number from?

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 09:42am on 22 Jan 2011, Cassandra wrote:

    Peter - you clearly have a lot of knowledge and feeling about Treaclebeak's suggestion that the UK abandoned Australia in 1942. There is a lot of historical contoversy arising out of war. Try telling some Poles that the UK was a loyal ally or try some Americans that it was really the Russians that won the war.

    Leaving all that to one side I assume you don't question Treaclebeak's suggestion that the UK turned its back on Australia and NZ economically at least in entering the European Common Market. I think the Aussies and the Kiwis probaby felt that was a little unfair particulalry given that

    - parts of their economy were entirely dependent on UK exports and little notice was given;

    - they had fought alongside Britaiin in the Boer War, WW1, WW2 etc.

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 11:50am on 22 Jan 2011, Colin V Alexander wrote:

    I believe there should be a National Disaster Fund (NDF) along the lines of the Future Fund. Floods are not our only national disasters as evidenced by recent fires in Victoria and Western Australia. It therefore should not be a case for argument between States as to how the money is spent. The NDF would require ongoing contributions. The initial contribution should be that money being used for the NBN and its administration. A small personal levy on individuals could then follow and be incorporated into the tax system. Also, after such a disastrous event their is no reason why the country could not wait a couple more years before getting the budget back into surplus. The Labor Party is responsible for wasting many millions of dollars and putting the country into deficit but they cannot be held responsible for "Acts of God". I also feel certain that regional areas would much prefer to be rebuilt, operational and productive again rather than have access to the internet. That is now a matter for another day. A major concern however, based on the current governments performance to date is that the money would be used to patch over other problems of their making. Obviously our PM's ego builders ie getting to a surplus budget by 2013 and building the NBN are of greater importance to her than the welfare of all other Australians. Australia would be much better off if she did look after the interests of children as a carer in a classroom.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 3:52pm on 22 Jan 2011, PeterD wrote:

    13 Cassandra.

    Please see my post 45 on blog "Ending diplomatic neglect".

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 10:33pm on 22 Jan 2011, Cassandra wrote:

    Peter D - all of your posts seem to be about Australia but taking a very pro Brit - anti Aus view. It is almost as though you are a Brit POW in Aus.

    Do you need us to get you out?

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 01:32am on 23 Jan 2011, PeterD wrote:

    16 Cassandra

    You are entitled to your opinion.

    For the record, I was born, raised and educated in the UK and, after 9.5 years of RAF service, emigrated to Canada in 1968. I spent most of my working life with the Canadian Government, interspersed with and followed by numerous overseas assignments on technical assistance programs with UN and other aid agencies. I’m now a seventy-year old retiree.

    My Canadian son relocated to Australia with his company in 1997, decided to stay, became a citizen and his Kiwi partner is scheduled to make me a proud grandparent of an Aussie boy in about three weeks time.

    Since early 1998, I have visited Australia every year for periods ranging from three weeks to four months. I’ve been able to travel throughout the country, enjoyed my stays and most of the people I’ve met have been very friendly. There is, however, a vocal minority who are inclined to regularly disparage the British, particularly regarding world war issues and who have no compunction about using lies and misrepresentations to support their views. This minority unfortunately also includes some members of the political class who should know better. Its occurrence is variable but you can bet the farm that it becomes most noticeable on occasions such as ANZAC day.

    I’ve plenty of criticisms about Britain myself. If I liked the place so much I would have remained there. However, I’ve got no time for this sort of muck. It’s unfair, unnecessary and demeans both the targeted and the targeters.

    One of the many things that make me a proud Canadians is that Canadians do not indulge in this sort of rubbish. Even in the case of the Dieppe raid debacle in 1942, they are mature enough to recognize that there were multiple causal factors. These range from Mountbatten’s hasty and self-serving promotion of the raid to the Canadian government’s desire to mitigate domestic political criticism by wanting their well-trained but inexperienced troops see action after two years in UK.

    After my son relocated to Australia in 1997, he encountered this particularly unpleasant form of pommi-bashing for the first time during a post-work gathering of young thirty-something professionals. When he asked them about it, the responses included: “it’s fun”, “we’ve always done it”, “because it’s true” and sheepish silence.

    In sum, for the most part I like Australia and most Australians very much but whenever I encounter this muck, I’ll continue to contest it vigorously and without apologies.

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 05:57am on 23 Jan 2011, BlueRoo wrote:


    Get a life. Please. You really need to.

    You need more things happening in your world rather than spending hours repudating hostoric points to prove what?

    That you hate Australians?

    So why are you on here? It's a blog about Australia, and yet you want to come in and grind an axe.

    Britain abandoned Australia in WW2. Period. You can harp on your stats mate, but go and ask the PEOPLE, that is what they believe. In the end the US stopped the Japanese, not the British.

    The peoples view is the ultimate decider.

    Now please, turn your computer off. Stop hating Australians and Australia, and go out and speak to some living, functioning humans.

    Have a laugh and enjoy yourself, please be happy.

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 06:05am on 23 Jan 2011, BlueRoo wrote:


    I've just read your post 17.

    Man. You go to Aust every year or so and this gets you!

    I really don't think you understand the country or its people. Or for that matter, you are able to notice that Canadians are different people again (I write this in NW Ontario in -30 degrees!).

    Seriously, you have an issue if this gets such a reaction. Sure, Australians give poms a hard time, just like what Aussies get in the UK!

    I really don't believe you like Australians. Like them to hate them if this bothers you so much and your son cops a bit of stick...

    Turn the puter off...

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 07:52am on 23 Jan 2011, PeterD wrote:

    18 and 19 BlueRoo

    From these diatribes, you're a classic example of that minority I referred to but thank goodness it is a minority.

    And you claim to speak for 20 million people. How's that for arrogance?

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 11:02am on 23 Jan 2011, busby2 wrote:

    13. At 09:42am on 22 Jan 2011, Cassandra wrote:
    Peter - you clearly have a lot of knowledge and feeling about Treaclebeak's suggestion that the UK abandoned Australia in 1942. There is a lot of historical contoversy arising out of war. Try telling some Poles that the UK was a loyal ally or try some Americans that it was really the Russians that won the war.

    I agree with Peter. There is a tendency of some Australians to believe we abandoned Australia in 1942 when Japan attacked in the Pacific. Before then, it was largely the Empire, which was as much Australian as British, New Zealand, Canadian or South African, that was fighting Nazism alone in Europe and North Africa. It is hardly surprising that Australian troops were involved in North Africa but after the Japanese attack, the Australian Divisions returned to fight the Japs. How is that regarded as abandoning Australia?

    The Australian war effort greatly intensified with the Japanese threat in much the same way that our war effort intensified after the fall of France in 1940. Again, this is not surprising and hardly a sign of being abandoned.

    The entry of japan and the USA into the war changed the whole emphasis of the war. The USA became the hub of the western effort to defeat the Nazis and the Japanese. They had both the military power and industrial muscle to fight a war on two fronts, and it was natural, after Pearl Harbour, that they would take the lead in the Pacific where the threat was greatest to Australia.

    What is noticeable is that we never seem to hear any New Zealanders complaining of being abandoned by Great Britain. At its peak in July 1942, New Zealand had 154,549 men and women under arms (excluding the Home Guard) and by the war's end a total of 194,000 men and 10,000 women had served in the armed forces at home and overseas. A total of 11,928 New Zealanders, or 0.73% of the 1939 population, lost their lives. Among other Commonwealth nations, the death rates were: 0.93% for the United Kingdom, 0.57% for Australia, 0.40% for Canada and 0.12% for South Africa.

    Leaving all that to one side I assume you don't question Treaclebeak's suggestion that the UK turned its back on Australia and NZ economically at least in entering the European Common Market. I think the Aussies and the Kiwis probaby felt that was a little unfair particulalry given that

    - parts of their economy were entirely dependent on UK exports and little notice was given;

    - they had fought alongside Britain in the Boer War, WW1, WW2 etc.

    Here I agree with you 100%! I was ashamed in 1973 when we betrayed Australia, NZ and the Commonwealth by joining the European Economic Community in 1973. We let down our friends who had never let us down, and I do wonder if this blatant act of betrayal in 1973 is behind those Aussies who think we also abandoned them in 1942.

    I voted No in the referendum and I am still opposed to the EU, as it is now.

    I admire Australia as an independent nation in charge of its own destiny, unlike my own country. It was refresing listening to the build up to the 2007 election when I was visiting Australian relatives to know that whoever won a mandate would not have their powers limited by Brussels or the ECHR.

    As to the current situation in Australia, I would expect Australia to apply the necessary resources to repair and rebuild as quickly as possible. If that means funding a bigger deficit, so be it! The Australian dollar is very high at the moment and a fall in value arising from a larger deficit could well stimulate an export led recovery to help pay for the flood damage.

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 8:01pm on 23 Jan 2011, paul wrote:

    Only the poets could possibly interpret the significance of these floods. And no I am not referring to Henry Lawson or Dorothy Mackellar. Rather A D Hope who, in his poem,'Australia', employed some striking metaphors. Some examples:

    'Her rivers of water drown among inland sands,
    The river of her immense stupidity
    Floods her monotonous tribes from Cairbs to Perth.....
    And her five cities, like five teeming sores,
    Each drain her: a vast parasite robber state
    Where second hand Europeans pullulate....'

    Regardless of whether we are Queenslanders or Tasmanians , we never learn from the lessons our environment teach us,and make the same mistakes over and over again, regarding decisions about where we choose to live. While at the same time poorly led by Governments who exist ostensibly to serve us.

    For indigenous Australians, prior to European colonisations, there were no 'natural disasters'as such. For thousands of years they lived in a way that was compatible with the vagaries of their environment. They were not second hand Europeans.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 11:20pm on 23 Jan 2011, crabbie old cabbie wrote:

    Everything is back to normal with this Bligh Labor Government all the lovey dovey hugs kisses and goodwill have all worn off now and all the poor devils who's homes have been damaged are being means tested for a slice of the 127 million dollars relief fund it can be better explained if you go to

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS


Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.