More featuring Viv Forbes»

by Viv Forbes, a geologist and farmer living on a farm in the rain-soaked Bremer River valley. He lived in Brisbane in 1974 and helped friends clean up in Graceville and, as a school boy, joined Warwick volunteers who helped to clean up flooded Inglewood in the 1950’s.

There is a growing chorus seeking to ban building on flood prone land.

Many settlements started near a permanent water supply on good alluvial soils, often at places where pioneer tracks crossed rivers or where pioneering ships berthed in river estuaries.

All such land is likely to be flood prone. It is not “certain” to flood in any particular year — it is “certain” to flood some time.

Similar water risks go far beyond flood plain inundation and include events such as flash flood, tsunami, tidal surge, dam failure, land slip, mud slide, wave erosion, storm damage, avalanches and advancing glaciers; even rising sea levels if you live as long as Methuselah. Will we also ban development on all of this land?

There is some risk associated with every block of land and the risk varies from place to place.

Some land brings higher risks from lack of water such as drought, bush fires and sand storms; or is located in unstable places where earth tantrums bring volcanic eruptions, earth-quakes, fault movements or subsidence.

Then there is property threatened by noxious neighbours such as wind towers, old mine workings or risky dam developments.

Someone could probably develop a “ban building” case for every bit of land on earth.

Whether he knows it or not, every land occupier assumes the various risks associated with that land. He should be free to do so. The price paid for the land generally reflects these risks and it is the responsibility of buyers and their advisers to enquire about flood and other risks.

But other people should not be forced to share that risk. Risk sharing should be a matter of free choice between every owner and his chosen insurer, even if that is “self insurance”. Insurance contracts should be clear and not deceptive and contracts should be enforced, but insurers and property owners should be free to decide all matters regarding insurance.

The worst risk to all landowners is government action. These include blanket bans involving Wild Rivers, Strategic Cropping land, parks, World Heritage, reservations, wildlife corridors, vegetation bans, green bans, resumptions, rezoning, interference and confiscations. These seizures are generally un-insurable, un-predictable, un-appealable and un-compensated.

What should governments do?

Governments should publish clear flood plans and make sure they are readily available.

Every landowner seeking building approvals must be advised clearly of the flood history of that land.

In national disasters the most useful things they can do is get roads, water, power and airfields working as soon as possible, and clean up all rubbish on streets. Use of defence forces and equipment is sensible – taxpayers are paying for them no matter what they do and much of disaster work gives them real experience at logistics and management in difficult situations.

But no bans.

If we had banned development on “flood prone” or “high risk” areas half of Australia would be given back to the bush.

(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Lang Hancock's Five Point Plan to Cripple Australia
  2. Put Windmills in National Parks
  3. Magnifying National Disasters
  4. Please Don't Feed the Animals
  5. Buy Birdsville Made?
  6. The Economics of Flood Risk
  7. Touring Bureaucrats
  8. Our slip-shod laws to blame
  9. Why Wind Won't Work
  10. A Profusion of "Prices"
  11. R.I.P. Ron Kitching - pioneer, explorer, author, family man, entrepreneur, scholar
  12. The Carbon Pollution Lie
  13. Closing Down Australia
  14. The Anti-Industry
  15. The Pyramid Builders
  16. Carbon Tax Bribery
  17. Crown Monopolies
  18. Carbon Tax Job Losses
  19. What Next, a Tax on Water?
  20. Carbon Health Warnings Coming Soon
  21. Growth Mythology
  22. The Tax Collection Industry
  23. Propaganda Puts Paid to Proof
  24. The Milk of the Welfare Teat is Watered Down
  25. "Crops for Cars" as Bad as Everlasting Drought
  26. Poll speech sets record
  27. The Emissions Trading Casino
  28. The Contract Society
  29. A Model Ministry
  30. The Five Point Plan to kill the economy with High Cost Electricity
  31. Put a Sunset Clause in the Carbon Tax
  32. Stuck on Red
  33. Time to Butcher "Aussie Beef"
  34. Carbon Tax Lies and Bribes
  35. The Middle of the Road
  36. United against taxes
  37. Call for Govt administrator
  38. Property & Prosperity
  39. "The Science is Settled" BUT Durban Climate Summit Not Cancelled
  40. No End to Fuelish Policies?
  41. The Right to Discriminate
  42. Sell the CES
  43. Free Water Costs Too Dam Much
  44. Creating Unemployment
  45. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  46. 1985 news item on Tax Payers United, Centre 2000 and the Australian Adam Smith Club
  47. Having the numbers is not the same as having the truth
  48. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  49. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  50. Caught in a welfare whirlpool
  51. Global Warming Season
  52. Mining in Queensland, Past, Present and Future
  53. WEATHER IS USUALLY UNUSUAL
  54. Political branch formed
  55. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  56. Viv Forbes on Libertarian Strategy and the Constant Resources Myth
  57. The New Brisbane Line?
  58. Carbon Lies
  59. We Mine to Live
  60. Save the taxpayer
  61. Solving Three Canberra Problems
  62. Vested Interests in the Climate Debate
  63. Carbon Tax Retrospective?
  64. Carbon Price Propaganda Taxes the Truth
  65. Don't Burn Food for Motor Spirit - Feed People not Cars
  66. Two Big Climate Taxes
  67. Greens Rediscover Hydrogen Car
  68. Atlas of Australia
  69. Shutting Out The Sun
  70. Safety Mania
  71. Coal - Sinking in the Swamps
  72. Hobbling the Competition
  73. Cubic Currency Coming
  74. "Dear Government"
  75. Viv Forbes mocks Flannery in 1988
  76. What we have is not a drug problem but a drug law problem
  77. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  78. Privatise Now! while they are still worth something
  79. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  80. The New Federalism
  81. Sunset for Solar Subsidies
  82. The mouse will roar
  83. The Road to Homelessness
  84. Planning & Prosperity
  85. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  86. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  87. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  88. Our homeless regulation refugees
  89. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  90. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
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