LNP issues Paradise Dam challenge, Minister hits back
WIDE BAY Burnett Federal and State MPs have issued a stunning broadside against the State Government's handling of Paradise Dam.
Today, they kicked off a social media campaign aimed at Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, asking her: what's your dam plan?
However, the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham, has hit back, challenging the Federal MPs to "give their constituents a progress report on the national water grid they promised during the election.”
"This is more of the National Party covering up for the abandonment of the bush by the Liberals,” Dr Lynham said.
Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt, Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, State Member for Callide Colin Boyce, State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and State Member for Bundaberg David Batt have banded together to demand answers from the State Government regarding Paradise Dam and current and future water security in the region.
"Water is life and here in Queensland's largest food bowl, without secure access to water, there are no crops, then less jobs, less money spent in the town shops and the effects go on and on,” Mr Pitt said.
"While safety should always come first, the State Government needs to give growers in this region some surety that they will either reinstate the dam to its full capacity or start other water projects in the region.
"How long will the repairs take? Is the planned 5m reduction on the spillway a temporary measure or is there no intention of reinstating it?
"If they can't or won't reinstate it, how is the State Government going to provide 85,000ML of water to growers and producers in this region each year, for the next 50 years?”
State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said the State Government was getting more and more secretive the longer the Paradise Dam debacle continued.
"They have started down a road of diabolical consequences through releasing this vast amount of water in such a short period of time on a safety proviso. But there's still no real technical data for us to see.
"No engineering reports have been produced to give us confidence that this is the real reason behind what is happening.
"Quite frankly it is unbelievable that the newest dam in Queensland is now not fit for purpose.
"We need answers and we need them now.”
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said the Paradise Dam crisis had hit home again to farmers that the State Government did not really care about agriculture and farm viability or the livelihoods of farmers and their families, and farm workers.
"What will happen if we don't get a wet season? What will the farmers do then? The last thing the State Government should be doing in times of drought is reducing a dam's storage capacity,” Mr O'Dowd said.
"No matter if it is irrigators on the Boyne, Burnett, Barambah or Coalstoun Lakes and Wallaville - they need water security.
"We need water infrastructure and we needed it six years ago.
"If we can't obtain water from Paradise Dam, the State Government must work with the Commonwealth to achieve our goals for the agricultural industry which means better and sustainable water security and infrastructure.”
State Member for Bundaberg David Batt said the Bundaberg community was utterly overwhelmed by the Paradise Dam disaster.
"And rightly so, with so many critical questions remaining unanswered,” Mr Batt said.
"What went wrong in the dam's construction? What was in the report that required immediate water release? Why haven't the reports been made public? What does this mean for Bundaberg in the next flood? These are the questions residents are asking.
"This debacle affects the lives of tens of thousands of people. It's a failure Queenslanders will never forget.
"I'm calling on the State Government to take urgent action and provide residents with the honesty and clarity they undoubtedly deserve,” Mr Batt said.
State Member for Callide Colin Boyce said water equalled jobs.
"The regional communities downstream of the Paradise Dam cannot afford to have their water turned off, by permanently reducing the size of the newest dam in Queensland,” Mr Boyce said.
"It's an absolute disgrace that the State Government is halving dams - halving Paradise and now halving Rookwood Weir over the cost of concrete.
"We need more dams, not less.”
Ms Palaszczuk said that the State Government "cannot emphasise enough that the decision to release water during a drought was not taken lightly.”
"Reducing the water level will allow works to improve the dam's stability during extreme rain events,” she said.
"My government's primary concern is community safety and we will always put this first.”
Dr Lynham reassured producers that "even if it doesn't rain a drop next summer, they will still have their water entitlements to 2021.”
"We know the contribution of our $60 billion food and fibre industries, and we know how producers across southern and central Queensland are struggling in this long-running drought,” he said.
"At Paradise, Sunwater is making every effort to make the water that is being released free and accessible to producers.
"While we deal with the immediate safety issue, Building Queensland will assess and report by February on options to ensure water security and safety for the region.”