Rumours of Dam Approval Greatly Exaggerated - Senate rebukes Bligh (updated 06 October)


A public meeting was  held at 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon (13 Sept)  at the SaveTheMaryRiver Information Centre at the Kandanga Railway Station in response to the media statement released  by the Premier, Anna Bligh, entitled "State grants green light to Traveston"

What had actually occurred WAS NOT a state or federal approval of the proposed Traveston Crossing Dam, (The headline on the Premier's press release was a LIE) but the decision of the Coordinator General to send a draft of proposed approval conditions for the project to the federal government for consideration and feedback, PRIOR to the Coordinator General producing his assessment report on the proposal. (UPDATE: This information has been confirmed in Parliament by  Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and publicly confirmed by the Coordinator General ) However, It was undoubtedly a another statement of political will from the premier that was designed to strike an emotional blow against the communities and families of the Mary Valley. It also helped create a media focus for the second anniversery of her appointment, which coincided with Brisbane's "Riverfest" distractions from reality.

Images from Stoppress.com.au - check it out(Photo:Outraged at stubborn stupidity, Stoppress.com.au)  Many of the statements in the media attention that followed are simply not supported by the scientific evidence produced during the Environmental Impact Assessment.  Most significantly, the information produced for the EIS clearly showed that the proposed dam is not a good performer in drought conditions. Because of it's small volume, poor location, shallowness  and associated high evaporation and seepage losses,  it would empty very quickly in a drought - providing about 18 months of drought storage at best.. Like a shallow saucer left out in the backyard it would fill very easily when it rains, but provide no useful water storage at all when things get dry.

The premier should also be reminded that "green" is not a good colour for a dam . The poor water quality and heavy weed infestations anticipated in this storage is one of the most destructive impacts that could be imagined for the threatened species of the Mary River,  which the proposed approval conditions are intended to protect. The Federal governments scientific summaries about some of these threatened species (in  the "Biodiversity threats" heading under "Government Links" on this website) clearly list dams and modified stream flows as the major threats to these species.  (Update: Senate Rebukes Bligh on "Green Dam" claim)

No public consultation has been entered into on these proposed mitigation measures throughout the state EIS process to date, and SaveTheMaryRiver insists that the full extent of these proposals are made available for public comment as part of the Federal approval process when it gets into  the hands of the federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett. (Update: A Senate motion calling on Peter Garrett to publish the information  his department received from the Queensland government was carried on Wednesday 16/09.  Senate debate focussed on concerns that the Qld Premier may have compromised the environmental assessment process by lobbying the Prime Minister on behalf of the proponent, and the lack of public consultation on any of the proposed approval conditions.)

If you know families and people directly adversely affected last Sunday's media shock tactic, look out for them and offer your support as a friend.  So far, it's just a media statement from a couple of  spinners - and we've all been toughened by three years of dealing with that sort of tactic.  The media statement does give some information on a likely timeline for the proper legal assessment process and leaves no doubt as to the political stubbornness of the Premier regarding this project.

Here is a link to a special edition of the "Dambusters' newsletter in response to this media stunt - feel free to print and distribute or email copies around to your contacts.  Here is a link to the latest 7.30 REPORT story (5th October 2009)