Brisbane 2011 flood victims win $440 million in class action partial settlement over operation of Wivenhoe Dam


Victims of the 2011 Brisbane floods will be paid $440 million in compensation from a class action against the Queensland government and Sunwater, in a partial settlement over the operation of the Wivenhoe Dam, north-west of Brisbane.

More than 6,500 residents won the landmark class action in 2019 after Queensland water authorities were found to have negligently managed the dam in the January 2011 floods, exacerbating damage to homes.

The historic settlement covers 50 per cent of the $880 million liability for damages.

State-owned dam operator Seqwater owes the remainder but is appealing against the payout, with a hearing set down for May.

“This has been a hard-fought and extremely expensive case on behalf of approximately 6,700 claimants … over many years,” a spokesperson for litigation funder Omni Bridgeway said in a statement announcing the settlement this morning.

Maurice Blackburn filed the class action in the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 2014.

Aerial view of homes covered by floodwaters in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, on January 12, 2011.(

AAP: Dave Hunt

)

Principal Rebecca Gilsenan said it was complex battle.

The action alleged dam operators were negligent in failing to use rainfall forecasts in making decisions about operating strategies, and failed to preserve a reasonable amount of the dams’ storage capacity in order to protect urban areas from inundation.

“This settlement is a very welcome development that we hope will bring some much-needed closure to our clients, who have had to endure significant uncertainty and frustration while the defendants fought this case at every turn,” she said.

“Of course, complete closure can only happen for our clients when Seqwater also settles or Seqwater’s appeal is finalised.

“The class will continue to vigorously fight Seqwater’s appeal, buoyed by today’s substantial settlement reached with the other two defendants.”

The settlement with the government and Sunwater is subject to approval by the NSW Supreme Court and agreement on terms, with an approval hearing likely to take place before the appeal starts in May.

Flood victim Paul Tully is outraged that Seqwater is appealing against a payout.

“The state government must direct Seqwater to withdraw their ill-considered appeal,” he said.

“It’s more than 10 years since the flood and this a despicable state of affairs.”

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Large Fire at Propane Tank Plant in Marshfield Detected From Space



A large fire that burned at a propane gas facility in Marshfield, Missouri, was detected by satellites in space on May 13, the National Weather Service said. A satellite detected a hotspot over Marshfield using technology usually used to detect wildfires and controlled burns, the NWS said. Up to 10,000 small propane tanks caught fire at the facility, causing a number of large explosions that forced local residents to evacuate, local media reported. Three employees inside the facility escaped the fire, with emergency crews treating one injured person, investigators said. Credit: Karen Ragsdale via Storyful

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Beers at 10am: Inside Matt Damon’s Brisbane visit



Adding to his growing claim as an honorary Aussie, Matt Damon started his day in Brisbane by popping into an iconic local pub at 10am for a morning Great Northern.

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Treasury Wine promises profits



And as the vaccines for COVID-19 roll out consumers are once again reaching for a bottle of wine as they socialise with family and friends, and increasingly they are spending money on premium and luxury wines that are the cornerstone of Treasury Wine’s portfolio.Unveiling his blueprint for Treasury Wine to cope with the new realities of crippling Chinese tariffs that robbed him of the company’s once key profit engine and a new company structure that splits it into three divisions from July 1, Mr Ford told analysts at its investor day he will return the company to high single-digit earnings growth.After the investor day on Thursday Mr Ford told The Australian that Treasury Wine, whose stable of brands include the luxury Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Lindemans, will remain a growth company that earns a good return on capital and can pay superior dividends to shareholders.“We see growth across multiple portfolios, multiple markets, and a premium brands portfolio focus will drive our growth consistently at that high single digit levels over the next five years,” Mr Ford told The Australian.“We think the focus and accountability that will be driven through those three business units, where they are measuring themselves against themselves and how they are going to grow their own businesses not only at the profit level and margin level but also the return on capital employed. “It will certainly improve each of those divisions which then combined will improve the total Treasury Wine Estates business.”The market embraced his growth vision, sending shares in Treasury Wine — which was demerged from brewer Foster’s 10 years ago — up 27c, or 2.7 per cent, to $10.22 on a day when the broader market fell.“We are a growth company, a long-term growth company. And our first decade has been successful on that front and we’re certainly pretty confident for the next decade too,” he said.The upbeat assessment came as Mr Ford, who took the reins from former Treasury Wine CEO Michael Clarke in July, saw a recovery in his wine sales and volumes in markets where COVID-19 restrictions were easing and drinkers were out socialising and celebrating.“We are seeing pretty consistent return to significant consumption growth, particularly in premium price points here in Australia. We are seeing in the US market a return to some pretty strong growth in those channels that had been impacted by the pandemic as the vaccination rolled out in the US as well. The trends are relatively consistent across the board and play to our portfolio, the premium and luxury mix that is in those channels as they open. “We are certainly seeing positive signs in those markets where the vaccine is rolling out.”From July Treasury Wine will split into three divisions: its flagship Penfolds brand, Treasury Premium Brands and a North American business unit, which Mr Ford believes will help drive accountability and company profit growth.Treasury Wine Estates is hoping to plug the massive profit gap left in its business from the loss of the highly profitable Chinese market last year following the imposition of a 175 per cent plus tariff on its Australian wines.The winemaker is also promising greater benefits from a review of its global supply chain and has set out its earnings targets for its key operations across its flagship Penfolds, commercial wines and its North American business.Treasury Wine is targeting net zero emissions by 2030 under an accelerated sustainability program.At the investor day Treasury Wine said it expects fiscal 2021 pre-tax earnings to be in the range of $495m to $515m, slightly ahead of current market consensus expectations. That would represent growth of 33 per cent in the second half compared to the prior corresponding period at the midpoint of the guidance range. Treasury Wine Estates ASX chart (TWE)In February Treasury Wine revealed the punishing weight of the Chinese tariffs imposed from November, disruption from COVID-19 across all its markets, and lost trade from shuttered restaurants and bars had bruised its half-year accounts, with first-half net profit down 42.8 per cent to $120.9m. Revenue slipped by 8.2 per cent to $1.42bn.On Thursday Treasury Wine also revealed for the first time key financial metrics around its Penfolds brand, showing it had some of the fattest margins for a luxury brand in the world. It unveiled the Penfolds group of wines had sales of $544.3m in 2018, rising to $816m in 2019 and $765.2m. Penfolds had earnings of $363.3m in 2019 and $357.3m in 2020. Its earnings margins were 47 per cent in 2020, up from 45 per cent in 2019.The company said over the long-term it is targeting the delivery of sustainable top-line growth and high single-digit average earnings growth. Treasury Wine’s long-term financial objectives also include the continued effort to sell more premium labels, expansion of its group earnings margin to the target of 25 per cent and restoring and then growing return on capital.Mr Ford said Penfolds is targeting 40-45 per cent margin, including investment to grow distribution; Treasury Americas maintaining its 25 per cent margin ambition; and Treasury Premium Brands targeting margin in the high-teens.The winemaker said that as previously announced it is currently undertaking a global supply-chain optimisation program. This program is now expected to deliver annualised benefits of at least $75m by fiscal 2023, up from the $50m of annualised benefits announced previously.

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Blind Golf Qld – come and try day


Come and try blind golf at TS Golf Academy, Glades Golf Course, Robina.

When:

From: 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM,
Friday, 14 May 2021

Where:

The Glades Golf Club

Cost:

Free

Type:

Public

Contact:

Neil Herdegen

Organisation:

Blind Golf Qld

Phone:

0423 234 843

Email:

herdegen@gmail.com

Web:

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Queensland recovery exceeding national average: Accor


Average occupancy levels of the 101 hotels Accor operates in Queensland has grown by more than 50% year-on-year, the company said, indicating the state was recovering from the pandemic faster than others.

Overall across the group’s Queensland network, the average occupancy rate closed at 74% for the month of April 2021, significantly up from the 23% recorded a year earlier, according to STR data.

Mantra Mooloolaba Beach

In line with national trends, the state’s regional areas including North Queensland, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and the Gold Coast were the best performing regions for the year ending April 2021. The state’s overall occupancy rate closed at 70% – well above the national average of 50%. The results contrasted with the capital city of Brisbane, which recovered partially to an average occupancy of 53%, still well below the pre-COVID levels of 75%.

Accor Pacific CEO, Simon McGrath, said the recovery rates could be attributed in no small part to the reopening and stabilisation of state borders, which would also help with consumer confidence.

“The results reveal that Australians love to travel to Queensland,” McGrath said.

Fairmont Port Douglas, coming in 2023, will feature 253 rooms and built with a sustainability-focused theme.

“A combination of greater certainty regarding borders, an increase in flights, state and federal stimulus measures, and a range of targeted marketing programs have significantly elevated holiday travel to Queensland in 2021,” he added.

However, McGrath said a worrying divide was opening up between city versus regional travel and that more government stimulus was needed to generate a return to prosperity for city regions.

“Travel to Brisbane is subdued because of a downturn in corporate travel and conferences,” McGrath said.

Further stimulus to encourage events in Brisbane were needed to boost hotel occupancies in the capital.

“Government support is crucial to re-building business, conference and events travel. I urge Government to consider how they might support our great cities return to prosperity through arts, sports and cultural events.”

Accor will introduce two new brands to Queensland in the next two years, with Fairmont Port Douglas and Mondrian Gold Coast both on track to open in 2023.



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CCC finds QPS engaged in gender discrimination in Qld Police Academy


Queensland police engaged in “discriminatory recruitment practices” in an attempt to achieve a 50 per cent female recruitment target over three years, a damning report by the state’s corruption watchdog has found.

As a result, about 200 male applicants more qualified than their female counterparts were blocked from graduating to the Queensland Police Service, the report estimated.

Three people from the service have been stood down after the Crime and Corruption Commission said an investigation had revealed “ample evidence” to support the conclusion, that during December 2015 to October 2018, different standards were applied to female and male applicants.

“Females (were) selected in preference to male applicants who had performed to a higher standard across entry assessments,” the report said.

“Around 2000 male applicants were subject to discriminatory assessment practices which prevented them from progressing through the recruitment process over an 18 month period from July 2016 to the end of 2017.

“If the various discriminatory practices had not been implemented, the CCC estimates approximately 200 more meritorious male applicants would have been successful in their attempt to join the QPS.”

Six women are alleged to have graduated from the Queensland Police Academy, despite not having met the initial minimum standards to enter the Academy.

The investigation also revealed a “recurring pattern” of misleading, deceptive and false reporting practices in relation to recruitment, the CCC said.

Some staff members in the QPS Recruiting Section were found to have consistently used misleading and “vague” statements, as well as sub-par reporting to a range of people “over an extended period of time”.

The lessons from the investigation will have broader application to the entire Queensland public sector, CCC chairperson Alan MacSporran QC said.

“While admirable in its intention, the strategy was a challenging one for the QPS within the realities of their recruiting environment and there was ambiguity about whether the then Commissioner had directed staff to ensure 50 per cent of recruits were female, or whether this was an ‘aspirational’ target with a recognition that it may not be met,” Mr MacSporran said.

“The evidence clearly shows that staff and management in the QPS Recruiting Section knew that discriminatory practices were used to achieve the 50 per cent recruitment target.

“ … No one appears to have given any serious thought to ­­— or asked any critical questions about — a strategy that would affect the whole organisation for years to come.

“This type of conduct could happen in any agency.”

No criminal action will be taken as a result of the investigation, however Commissioner Katarina Carroll confirmed disciplinary action had been taken against three people.

Two QPS employees and a Public Safety Business Agency employee have been suspended. A fourth person identified in the report had already left the QPS.

“The conduct alleged in this report is completely disappointing and can I reassure the public that this alleged behaviour does not meet the standards or expectation of our Queensland Police officers and dedicated staff,” she said.

“I am committed to independent, transparent and impartial entry testing for all prospective police recruits.”

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Four spectators charged after wild junior rugby league brawl


Four spectators have been charged over a wild brawl at a junior rugby league match that left a young father with serious facial injuries.

Violence erupted between spectators at an Under-13s Division 1 game between Wynnum Manly and Logan Brothers at Kitchener Park on Sunday morning.

Police on Wednesday charged a 24-year-old Inala man with grievous bodily harm, and a 26-year-old Slacks Creek man with grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning bodily harm.

Two Logan men, aged 36 and 19, were on Tuesday both charged with one count of grievous bodily harm and two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm.

Police say the four men have all been denied bail and will appear in Wynnum Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Footage of the brawl emerged online and showed adult spectators spilling onto the playing field fighting each other.

Punches were seen to be thrown and one man was kicked during the brawl, while others jumped the fence to get in close to the action.

It is unclear if any of the four men charged were seen in the video.

Father Josh Jones was injured in the scuffle and had to be taken to hospital for facial injuries.

“Investigations suggest the initial assault was unprovoked and took place when a 35-year-old man was pushed down a set of stairs, knocking over a 59-year-old woman,” police said in a statement released on Tuesday.

“The man attempted to remove himself from the confrontation by walking on to the sports ground, however the altercation continued and more people became involved.”

He was treated in hospital for serious facial injuries while the woman sustained a minor head injury, police said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for his surgery and medical costs.

“Josh was ready to commence with a new job on Tuesday, but now has no idea when he will be able to start,” organiser Debbie Saint wrote.

“Looking to raise funds to take the immediate financial pressure off this family, while they heal physically and emotionally.”

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Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk again demands regional quarantine


The “most glaring omission” in the federal budget was the refusal to commit to a regional quarantine plan, the Queensland premier says, accusing the Morrison government of failing to provide “safety and certainty” against the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

Annastacia Palaszczuk has continued to lobby the commonwealth to build purpose-built facilities to accommodate returning travellers, proposing a centre in Toowoomba.

The 1000-bed site would be based on the outskirts of the regional city, with similar facilities dotted across the country as a solution for the continued failings of centrally-based hotel quarantines.

“In this ongoing age of COVID, there are two things Australia needs: safety and certainty,” Ms Palaszczuk told state parliament on Wednesday.

“Regional quarantine is our last best hope for both.

“Returning stranded Australians from overseas, plugging the gaps in the labour market, the return of foreign students, the return of international travel – all these problems are solved with regional quarantine.”

RELATED: Budget calculator: How much you’ll get

The Premier reiterated her criticism of the Morrison government, who she said was constitutionally responsible for quarantine but it was being “shouldered by the states”.

“Our hotels were never designed for long-term quarantine,” she said.

“Last night, the budget revealed international borders will not open for another year.

“That’s another Christmas before families see each other again.

“Regional quarantine reunites families sooner.”

The pointed criticism comes after Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said the budget was a “rotten rip-off” based on the previously reported $1.6bn of transport infrastructure investment allocated to the Sunshine State compared to $3.3bn and $3bn for NSW and Victoria respectively.

He said this share of investment ignored the pressures of population growth, with migration adding 30,000 residents to Queensland last year, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics, compared to population losses of 19,000 and 13,000 in NSW and Victoria respectively.

“Tonight, we have learned the truth – only $807.5 million of that supposed $1.6 billion, barely half of the amount promised – is in this budget,” he said on Tuesday night.

“Scott Morrison is holding Queenslanders to ransom, saying they’d have to vote for him in at least two more elections before we’d see the money he promised.”

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Football advocate Bonita Mersiades issues retraction, apology to Football Queensland executives



Bonita Mersiades has issued an apology to Football Queensland directors Rob Cavallucci and Ben Richardson to settle their defamation action against her.

Football Queensland issued a statement on Thursday confirming that the defamation action had been settled, with Mersiades and Fair Play Publishing issuing a retraction and an apology.

Football Queensland said: “An undisclosed sum was paid to the plaintiffs Cavallucci and Richardson by Bonita Mersiades, which will be donated in its entirety to football-related charities.”

“Football Queensland welcomes the settlement of this matter and looks forward to continuing its focus as the governing body of the sport in Queensland, on growing the game and supporting the members and participants of our football community across the state.”

Cavallucci and Richardson opened defamation proceedings against Mersiades after the latter wrote an article criticising the process which led to the recruitment of Cavallucci as chief executive.

Mersiades’s apology states, “On 24 January 2020 I published an article entitled ‘Costs of playing increases in Queensland’ (‘Article’).”

“It has been brought to my attention that some people may have interpreted the Article to mean that Mr Robert Cavallucci and Mr Ben Richardson were corrupt, dishonest, acted disreputably and were in dereliction of their duties owed to Football Queensland in their respective positions as chairman and director.

“Separately, as against Mr Richardson, the Article may have been interpreted to mean that he favoured his personal interests by securing an appointment as a consultant to search for a replacement chief executive officer and was dishonest in rendering an invoice to Football Queensland for consulting work he did not undertake.

“I did not intend any such suggestions to arise. Those suggestions would be untrue and unfounded.

“I wish to apologise to Mr Cavallucci and Mr Richardson for any hurt, distress and embarrassment the Article and subsequent publications may have caused to them and their families.

“I also wish to apologise that public assertions of truth of the above suggestions were made in court proceedings, which were subsequently broadcast on the Australian Broadcast Corporation’s ‘7:30’ program on 25 November 2020.”

Mersiades’ apology went on to state that: “The position is Mr Cavallucci was appointed to the role of CEO of Football Queensland after an extensive recruitment process that ultimately led to his appointment in the role and the fee increase to player registration fees was approved by the board before Mr Cavallucci was offered the role of CEO of Football Queensland.”

“Following the resignation of the former CEO of Football Queensland, Mr Richardson provided executive services to the organisation, which was without a chief executive officer while also undertaking the recruitment process over a two-month period, which process resulted in Mr Cavallucci being unanimously appointed by the board of Football Queensland.”

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