Greens push for Maribyrnong flood inquiry
State Member for Melbourne Ellen Sandell and her Greens counterparts have introduced a motion calling for the Victorian Government to establish a parliamentary inquiry into last year’s Maribyrnong River floods.
The Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens said the community deserved a proper inquiry amid Melbourne Water’s “limited review” into the floods, which saw many residents in Kensington, Maribyrnong, Avondale Heights and Ascot Vale left reeling.
A flood wall constructed along the Flemington Racecourse in 2007, which was supported by the then Bracks Labor Government, saw the racetrack left unscathed while homes and businesses dealt with the impacts of rising flood waters.
The Greens say their inquiry would help close the gaps left open by the current Melbourne Water review, which they say is too narrow in scope and has left the affected communities deeply disappointed.
In supporting a proposed inquiry by the Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee, Ms Sandell said the Melbourne Water review was convenient for the Labor Government, “who wanted to avoid blame or criticism”.
“Last year areas of Kensington and Maribyrnong were under metres of water while the Flemington Racecourse was kept dry by a flood wall, approved by a Labor Government at the expense of the community,” she said.
The flood wall around the dry racecourse, while homes went under water, demonstrates very clearly who the government is willing to protect and who gets left behind when it comes to climate change.
“This kind of thing can’t be allowed to continue, and the community are rightly outraged that the Labor Government seems to want to sweep important questions about the flood under the carpet.”
“We urgently need a broader-ranging inquiry into these floods to explore why the flood wall was built in the first place, why early warning systems didn’t work, and how we can better protect homes and lives during climate disasters, not just vested interests. Governments must do better when it comes to increasingly frequent climate disasters.”
The Greens said that its proposed inquiry would investigate a range of areas, including whether the flood wall exacerbated flood impacts in surrounding areas, and the 2007 decision to build the wall made by then Minister for Planning Mary Delahunty, as well as the effectiveness of early warning systems.
Last year’s floods hit 525 homes in Maribyrnong alone – four times the number affected during the river’s last major flooding event in 1974 – while homes surrounding Riverside Park in Kensington were also badly impacted. •