Dam dispute unites growers and MPs
LOCAL MPs have come together with growers to express their frustration with the State Government as it prepares to begin lowering Paradise Dam’s spillway today.
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt, Bundaberg MP David Batt and Burnett MP Stephen Bennett said there should be an immediate halt to the works.
Mr Pitt, the federal water minister, said the Commission of Inquiry Report into Paradise Dam found more testing was needed to resolve claims about the dam’s stability.
“As the commission’s report says, the only uncertainty about the dam’s stability is in a flood event much larger than in 2011 and 2013 when it proved stable,” he said.
Mr Pitt said without water security the agriculture industry would literally be left high and dry.
“We’ve been united on this from the start and we will be united on this at the finish,” he said.
Mr Bennett said the first recommendation of the inquiry’s report called for more testing to be completed.
“As a community we are bitterly disappointed, but we will continue to fight for Paradise and for the economic security our region deserves,” he said.
Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers managing director Bree Grima said the cost to agriculture could not be underestimated.
“Each megalitre of water capacity lost costs the region $48,000 in lost productive value – potentially more than $4 billion lost to the local economy over the next 30 years. On top of that are more than 8000 jobs at risk if Paradise Dam is lowered,” she said.
“Farmers who have invested in a scheme which was supposed to drought proof the region. Businesses whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. And people whose jobs are at risk.
“There is only one way to guarantee the economic security of the Bundaberg region: return the dam’s capacity to full supply level.”