OPINION: Between the Lines
Perhaps it’s the lack of rain. Perhaps it’s the too-hard basket. Either way, the issue of flooding has endured a low profile these council elections.
We have a huge problem with flooding in Wollongong. There’s several reasons. The natural geography of the escarpment catches the rain. The rail line and built-up M1 act as a dam wall. The drains underneath it were built too small and no-one wants to fix them. And the city council is in no hurry – conducting reviews, reports, deflecting blame, and sometimes funding mitigation works. Progress is scant, and slow.
Figtree’s John Mathieson is trying to do something about that. The retired steelworks scientist is an impressive community activist – humble, considered and best of all, well informed. In the words of Dylan, he’ll know his song well before he starts singin’.
In 2015 he comprehensively debunked council’s policy of modelling flood risk and drain blockage, showing how hundreds of homes were wrongly classed as high risk when they never flood.
John Mathieson now wants to know where council candidates stand.
Gordon Bradbery declared in 2014 that flooding and stormwater spending was “vastly inadequate” and flooding was “a huge problem we’ve got to somehow or other get out head around”.
That has not happened. It’s business as usual. And Mr Bradbery has been more likely to defend council’s inadequate approach, than to challenge it.
Mayoral candidate John Dorahy has recently backed residents but we’ll see how far he’ll go.
On this council, Ward 1 independent Greg Petty has most often been the voice for people stranded by flood policies.
So if you meet a candidate, ask them how seriously they take flooding. And even better: ask them what they plan to do.