Proposed dam stopped in Australia

By the Save the Mary Coordinating Group and Diet Simon

A 2007 report by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney and Cardno Brisbane, found supply and demand options being implemented in Southeast Queensland sufficient to ensure adequate water supplies until about 2030 without the need for a Traveston dam.

Related: Gympie Times - Group wades in on debate

A proposed dam one and a third times the area of Sydney Harbour has been stopped by the Australian environment minister, Peter Garrett.

The former front man of the band “Midnight Oil” named as his reasons the probable extinction of various unique species, including the lungfish, the first creature to crawl out of the sea hundreds of millions of years ago.

It became the first land animal with a spine and is the only fish to breathe with lungs.
The primeval ancestor of human beings lives only in two Queensland Rivers, the Mary (entering the sea at Hervey Bay) and the Burnett (emptying near Bundaberg).

A former Queensland Labor premier, Peter Beattie, said when announcing the plan three and a half years ago, the dam would be built “feasible or not”.

For coverage on Sydney IndyMedia click

While residents of the Mary Valley are still applauding Garret's decision, they are horrified at Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s knee jerk reaction to it.

“The Premier’s dramatic announcement of more desalination plants without community consultation or strategic environmental impact assessment shows she hasn't learnt a single lesson from the financial and social debacle of Traveston,” says Save the Mary River Coordinating Group President, Glenda Pickersgill.

“It’s like she’s reeled off the ropes from the Traveston blow and is making exactly the same mistakes all over again.

“There are many lessons to be learnt from Traveston. It will surely go down in history as how not to embark on major infrastructure projects,” Ms Pickersgill said.

“A prudent Queensland government would have commissioned some independent assessments, not only of the impacts but also of the chances of gaining federal approval and saved Queenslanders around $1 billion.

“Queenslanders are understandably appalled that they’ve been led up the garden path with this proposal. Many, many experts warned of unacceptable impacts all along the way but the government response was to spend even more money, buying up properties, digging itself ever deeper into a hole of its own making.

“What happened in the Mary Valley should be carefully studied by the government. People here didn’t demand the dam simply go elsewhere. They took very seriously, the expectation that Brisbane should have a secure water supply and researched alternatives to the proposed Traveston Crossing dam.

“They found, as the federal government has found, that there are many options that provide water security, especially with the uncertainties of climate change, and yet the state government has consistently plumped for the ones that require massive construction and the inevitable ‘hard hat’ opportunities.”

Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbot has called for a “cooling down period” after the decision before racing headlong into more unpopular and expensive blunders, something Ms Pickersgill wholeheartedly endorses.

“The independent economic review commissioned by Garrett identified that the assumptions of the Queensland government about future water needs would likely lead to a ‘high cost outcome for the community’ and ‘significant excess capacity’.

“This dummy-spitting ‘need to find the water somewhere’ response of the Premier follows months of scare mongering that unless the proposed Traveston Crossing dam is built, two million will be without drinking water. This is complete nonsense.

“The community has shown the future they want,” Ms Pickersgill said. “Consistently they are light years ahead of politicians when it comes to being prepared to reduce water consumption and to install water-saving devices and rainwater tanks. It’s time that this good will was listened to. The public want sustainable water options that don’t cost the earth, or the rivers.”

“With a Brisbane poll showing 71% agreeing with Peter Garrett’s decision, the Premier and her advisers could not be more out of touch with the people of southeast Queensland.”


Media contacts:

Glenda Pickersgill (Save the Mary River Coordinating Group) 041 144 3589

David Kreutz (Save the Mary River Coordinating Group) 043 268 3147

Victor Hill (Save the Mary River Coordinating Group) 040 775 4925

Darryl Stewart (Greater Mary Association) 041 877 1655