Prime Minister says "I've swum in the Mary, I know it's a beautiful place"

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On Tuesday, 2 November, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd arrived for a health forum at Hervey Bay hospital and he was greeted by a sea of yellow made up of Greater Mary Association members.

He left the vehicle he arrived in and walked over to our group, shook everyone's hand, received a gift of a "Love, Mary" book, a no dam pen and an "I love Mary" mug and strode away.

It was all over in a flash, but one sentence spoken by the Prime Minister left us pondering it's significance. On receiving the gift, his words were "Don't worry, I've swum in the Mary River, I know it's a beautiful place."

We know it is Minister Garrett's decision and therefore do not read too much into this statement. "Don't worry" might only be a Priministerial turn of phrase. However, the "it's a beautiful place" comment does show that, unlike our state leader, the Prime Minister appears to understand that the Mary River is beautiful, not a river degraded to the point of collapse by farmers, as the Premier would have us believe.

Another interesting thing to emerge from the statements made by the Prime Minister about the decision being Peter Garrett's alone, is that it differs from the impression Anna Bligh was seeking to create a couple of weeks ago when she talked about having dinner with Kevin and telling him how important the dam was. Based on what the Prime Minister said yesterday, the Premier was completely out of line suggesting she could influence the decision by having dinner with Rudd.

Contrary to some of the media reports, the people who made up that "sea of yellow" were not residents from the footrprint of the proposed dam who had travelled downstream to raise concerns about loss of their farmland. Over half the group were from Hervey Bay, and the majority of the remainder were from Maryborough and Tiaro. They wanted to let Kevin Rudd know that the Traveston Crossing Dam would impact on the lower Mary River and Great Sandy Strait.

We also asked that the Prime Minister urge Anna Bligh to follow the federal government's own policy platform on water and biodiversity. If they did that Traveston wouldn't go ahead.

The media release we put out about the event can be found at: 

The gathering yesterday further reinforced the depth of local support the campaign has. As we were milling around waiting for the Prime Minister the majority of people passing by said words of encouragement and support. No one made negative comments to us.

Thanks to everyone who was there on such short notice.