WHEN Tim Abbott telephoned the State Emergency Service to query predictions about the peak height of a flooding Murrumbidgee River he was told to “ring the radio station”.
The information the Wagga solicitor and part-time farmer on low-lying land at Euberta sought was vital to how he managed 600 head of sheep before leaving his property to conduct legal work in Sydney.
He moved the stock on Thursday because the river was predicted to reach 8.4 metres while he was away.
“Based on that information, I moved stock, including lambing ewes, which is a no-no, because I did not want to lose stock,” Mr Abbott said on Friday.
“I spoke to a woman at the SES today and asked would she mind telling me what the predicted river height at Wagga would be,” Mr Abbott said.
“She told me she could not give me that information.
“I debated a bit with her and said it was important to have that information and I had been given it in the past.
“She said call the radio station.
“I said why call a media outlet to get information you produce?
“I was told she had to get off the phone because we have rescues to do.”
Mr Abbott said he wanted to confirm the prediction because he felt earlier forecasts had not been accurate.
“With the first flood, they said it would reach 7.5m, and it went to 6.94m,” Mr Abbott said.
“That difference is considerable.
“Historically, we have always been given timely help and accurate information from the SES about river heights.”
State Emergency Service incident controller Samantha Colwell defended the organisation.
“At the end of the day, we don’t predict river heights, it’s the Bureau of Meteorology,” Mrs Colwell said.
“We just don’t have the resources to take phone calls from everyone who wants that information.
“It’s not that we don’t want to talk to people, but we don’t have the resources to do that.
“He (Mr Abbott) could be right (about the river peak) but we have to go on what the bureau tells us.
“The bureau has current information.”