Flood victims may be denied 99% of payout
QUEENSLAND'S 2011 floods victims, who last year won an historic class action against the State Government, may end up with a pittance which "won't even cover the cost of a flat screen TV.''
As parties involved in the class action prepare for a damages hearing in the NSW Supreme Court later today, flood victims are still reeling at news the Queensland Government hopes to pay just 1 per cent of damages.
Flood victim and Ipswich councillor Paul Tully said up to 7000 claimants in the class action had been thrilled late last year when the NSW Supreme Court found in favour of the class action bought by lawyers Maurice Blackburn.
But they have been stunned by news he State Government would argue it was responsible for less than 1 per cent of the damage arising from the flood.
Maurice Blackburn said the state was taking the position that flood engineers employed by the state were not as responsible as the other engineers involved in dam management who were not employed by the state.
Cr Tully, who lost his family home at Goodna in the floods, said the State Government had made an appalling decision to try and downsize its payout to victims.
He said even if a victim qualified for a $100,000 payout, they would end up with a pittance if the State Government had its way.
"Under the Government's proposal you could deserve a $100,000 payout and end up with not even enough money to buy a good flat-screen TV,'' he said.
"It is just appalling behaviour on behalf of the State Government.''
Maurice Blackburn based its successful class action on a simple proposition: that engineers had allowed too much water to accumulate in dams, including the massive Wivenhoe Dam above Brisbane, in the lead-up to the January 2011 floods.
Maurice Blackburn lawyers argued that when the massive rain event was at its peak, large volumes of water were released from dams and contributed extensively to flooding, which caused hundreds of millions of dollars' damage to houses and businesses in southeast Queensland.
The law firm says Seqwater should be liable for 50 per cent of damages, SunWater for 25 per cent and the state itself 25 per cent.
The Government has said it will not appeal the decision on the class action, but would refrain from further comment until other matters related to the matter were determined by the courts.
The three-day hearing will be held via videoconference.
Originally published as Flood victims may be denied 99% of payout