Managing Earthquake Risk in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie

12 September 2002

Good building practice may be the single, most important factor in reducing threats to human life and property from earthquakes in Newcastle, according to a major study launched today by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Warren Entsch.

The report is the result of four years work in studying the earthquake risk in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region carried out by Geoscience Australia, the national agency for geoscientific research and information.

"Geoscience Australia's Risk Modelling project has taken the lead role in understanding earthquakes and their potential impact upon Australia's urban communities," Mr Entsch said.

"The potential impact of earthquakes in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region was painfully demonstrated in 1989 when an earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale shook the city, claiming 13 lives and causing extensive damage to buildings and other structures.

"This event clearly demonstrated that even moderate-magnitude earthquakes, which frequently occur in Australia, have the potential to dramatically impact upon Australian communities."

Based on the calculated level of risk, the study states that relevant authorities and individuals could adopt a number of strategies to minimise the impact of earthquakes.

These include improving the earthquake loading standard; ensuring all new buildings comply with building standards; having adequate insurance and protecting emergency facilities which provide essential services following any earthquake event.

"But ultimately, the study states that good building practice may be the single, most important long-term factor in reducing economic losses and casualties from earthquakes in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie," Mr Entsch said.

"This important study is innovative and provides a framework to help us develop communities to be better equipped to deal with this natural hazard.

"I urge the relevant authorities to review the recommendations made in this report and to take appropriate action so that ultimately we will have safer and more prosperous communities."

Mr Entsch said the study would assist decision-makers involved in local and state governments, emergency services, the insurance industry, engineers, architects and the building and finance industries to manage potential damage and loss of life from earthquakes in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

The report titled Earthquake risk in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie is presented on CD with a hard copy overview booklet. The set costs less than $40 and is available from our Sales Centre.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013