Journal of Geography  & Natural Disasters

Journal of Geography  & Natural Disasters
Open Access

ISSN: 2167-0587



Natural Hazard Resilient Communities and Land Use Planning: The Limitations of Planning Governance in Tropical Australia

Sharon Harwood, Dean Carson, Ed Wensing and Luke Jackson

This paper examines how two Australian land use planning systems address the creation of hazard resilient communities in tropical areas. The application of substantive hazard knowledge and how this influences the associated procedures within the planning system is examined. The case studies of Darwin the capital of the Northern Territory, and the beachside suburb of Machans Beach within the Cairns Regional Council in far north Queensland are investigated. Both case study locations have experienced tropical cyclones since settlement and despite their hazard prone locations, both have intensified over their 120 year existence. Moreover, it is predicted that cyclones in tropical Australia will decrease in number, but increase in intensity. It would be rational to assume that industry, community and government would actively pursue planning strategies to negate the risks of natural hazards and the corresponding level of vulnerability to a hazard event. However, neither communities nor planning are driven by rational technical decision making processes. The paper concludes that the rhetoric for creating hazard resilient communities dominates national and state government policy, however this has minimal influence upon the legal framework that protects development rights. It would appear that the safe development paradox is present in the Australian land use planning system, and that the focus of planning is on creating certainty of development rights and achieving efficiencies through urban settlement patterns, as opposed to creating hazard resilient communities.