Queensland: Floods

March 31, 2022

Luke Greave and his wife and young children love living in Rocklea because it's an intimate, enclosed suburb, close to the city, where most people know each other. When they bought, back in 2016, the modelling showed once-in-100-year flooding lines. The modelling was updated last year but, by then, Luke and his family had already moved out of their home more than 20 times because of floodwaters. The family have a whole evacuation plan. When the rain sensor alarms go off and water enters their yard, they pack up and drive to Luke's in-laws. It's what they did on the night of Friday 25 February this year. The house is on stilts, and water was lapping at the back stairs. On Saturday it actually looked like the water was receding. Luke hoped it would be okay, but by Sunday the water was flowing through his house. There was no official warning that the water was rising, but the BOM gauge at Marshall Road was off the charts. I live a kilometre away in Moorooka, and we didn't get a message until late on Sunday night. But by Sunday Rocklea was in chaos. People were trapped in their homes. Neighbours were checking up on each other in tinnies. The police were doorknocking to try to get people out. It's all well and good to get out, but, if you have nowhere to go, you have to pay for a hotel. There were no evacuation centres anywhere near Rocklea, where almost the entire suburb was flooded, and many locals have very limited incomes. Luke and his family have insurance—that is rare in Rocklea—but their property is undervalued, as they couldn't afford the premium amount. They moved to Rocklea because it was affordable. I've stood inside Luke's gutted house. Now only frames are holding up the insides. The beautiful hardwood floors are all bent. You can't spend your life moving in and out of your home whenever it rains, but that's what people in Rocklea do.

After the 2011 floods, several properties around Luke's home were acquired by the council as part of the Voluntary Home Purchase Scheme, before that was cruelly axed by the LNP Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner. Luke has asked to be included in the Flood Resilient Homes Program, where owners are given financial assistance to adapt their homes, through measures including raising them. Some people have done that in Rocklea. He was told that Rocklea is not impacted severely enough by flooding and does not meet the criteria. Really? I ask anyone making up those rules to come and walk around Rocklea with me, and I'll show you the lines from 1974, 2011, 2022 and in between.

The Queensland state government has called on the Morrison government to jointly fund a $771 million disaster package which will increase the resilience in Queensland communities like Rocklea. We've been hit by floods too many times. We must build back better. That includes a $350 million buyback scheme, where perhaps homes like Luke's can be turned into raised properties with garages and the like. Residents like Luke and others in the suburb of Rocklea could really benefit from this package. I urge the Prime Minister and all of the coalition to sign up to this as a priority.