Wagner family suing 60 Minutes over 'tsunami' claim

Denis Wagner gives press conference after the inquiry into the involvment of the Wagners quarry in the 2011 floods. Thursday, Oct 08, 2015 . Photo Nev Madsen / The Chronicle
Denis Wagner gives press conference after the inquiry into the involvment of the Wagners quarry in the 2011 floods. Thursday, Oct 08, 2015 . Photo Nev Madsen / The Chronicle Nev Madsen

TOOWOOMBA'S Wagner family is suing Channel 9 for about $15 million over a 60 Minutes segment which claimed they were responsible for "an unprecedented inland tsunami" during the 2011 Grantham floods which took 12 lives.

Wagner Group's Denis Wagner and three of his brothers have lodged the court action which follows similar action against Sydney radio host Alan Jones, 2GB licensee Harbour Radio and Radio 4BC Brisbane.

The Wagner family are the driving force behind Toowoomba's Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport which had its first plane to carry freight internationally yesterday.

A commission of inquiry in October cleared the Wagners of any responsibility for the floods.

Three hydrology reports showed their quarry wall collapsing played no significant role in the disaster and even potentially slowed it slightly.

The court documents lodged last week quote Commissioner Walter Sofronoff, QC, saying the family had been "unfairly and viciously blamed" for the flooding by some in the media, the Courier-Mail reported.

Four Wagner brothers, Denis, John, Joe and Neill, are each seeking $626,500 in damages from Nine Network Australia, TCN Channel Nine, Queensland Television, WIN Television QLD and NineMSN, as well as freelance journalist Nick Cater.

The legal action states  states no retraction or apology has been made despite the commission's findings, which were handed down in October.

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Commisioner Sofronoff said there was no cover-up over the quarry's role in the flood, despite some residents' concerns.

The report stated, "Quarry or no quarry, railway line or no railway line, if there is ever another sudden dump of water in the upper catchment of the Lockyer Creek of the order of that which fell on 10 January 2011, the same thing will happen again".

"It happened because there was an extraordinary amount of rain that fell into the catchment so that the land became saturated and any further rainfall wouldn't go to the ground," Mr Sofronoff said.

"It would go straight down, the water then goes straight into the creeks, the creeks then lead to Lockyer Creek, Lockyer Creek runs past Grantham, and there you are."

After the findings were released, Mr Wagner, said some media outlets fed the attacks against the quarry.

Those attacks were led by Alan Jones, he said.

Mr Wagner said Mr Jones should hang his head in shame.

But he said the inquiry revealed what he knew - that the quarry was not to blame.

Topics:  60 minutes denis wagner grantham flood inquiry grantham floods quarry

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