Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett
Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett

Protesters 'confident' on dam

UPDATE: MARY River dam protesters say they are 'very confident' this morning that the $2 billion project will be scrapped.

Glenda Pickersgill, president of the Save the Mary River Coordinating Group, told sunshinecoastdaily.com.au that if Environment Minister Peter Garrett made a decision on 'science', it would be a resounding no.

"We are very confident in the science that this project should not go ahead,'' Ms Pickersgill said.

Protesters also expressed confidence in Mr Garrett and his department that they would do the right thing.
Residents will gather at Kandanga this afternoon to hear whether Mr Garrett gives the green light to the dam.

Mr Garrett is expected to announce his decision on the Traveston Crossing Dam about 1pm in Brisbane today.

"The plan is to gather at the Kandanga No Dam Info Centre around this time, to meet the media,''  dam protester Arkin Mackay said in an alert sent out this morning.
"Then there will be a public meeting tonight at Kandanga Hall at 7pm - regardless of which way the decision goes.''

Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbot doubted Mr Garrett would give the project a green light.

"It'sbeen one of the great fights of any community I ever seen. I don'tbelieve that the federal minister has any choice environmentally otherthan to refuse the dam," Mr Abbot told ABC Radio.

"Thereare significant environmental reasons for him to do so and I don'tthink that on behalf of the environment this country has any choice butto say no."

Ms Pickersgill said even if Mr Garrett approved the dam, it was only a 'proposed decision' and there would be opportunity to continue to argue why it should not be approved on environmental grounds.

"This is a proposed decision. It's not the final decision.''

"There is still more time to reconsider.''

Ms Pickersgill also rejected arguments of dam supporters the project would create thousands of jobs.

She said the Paradise Dam had only delivered half the 1200 jobs the State Government said it would.

Ms Pickersgill rejected suggestions by Premier Anna Bligh that alternatives would send the price of water up in south-east Queensland.

She said the project would only cost the government because it would not be able to sell off the water grid.

Ms Pickersgill said there were an array of cheaper alternatives, including water tanks, water harvesting from roofs, properly designed desalination plants, which would be more cost effective.

Long wait for Mary River residents

Ongoing speculation about the timing of a final decision on the Traveston Dam has been like water torture to the people of the Mary Valley.

While premier Anna Bligh (related: Bligh urged to face music on dam result) has played the politics of water cost and desalination plant locations if the dam is rejected by Mr Garrett, those primarily affected by any decision have felt like pawns in a game over which they have no control.

Counsellors who have worked with the community since the dam proposal was announced in 2006 said they are dealing with people whose marriages have broken down, whose health has deteriorated and whose children have been affected.

Not only are people faced with losing their homes, but to a large extent they have already lost the community in which they live. Neighbours have sold up and moved away, no longer able to handle the stress and uncertainty.

Mr Garrett's decision will not bring closure to the valley. It is a proposed decision because a 10-day window then exists for other relevant ministers and the Queensland government to comment.

Mr Garrett was urged yesterday by Save the Mary chief Glenda Pickersgill to rethink a decision to exclude the community from that process.

“The community does have a stake in this as well as the proponent,” Ms Pickersgill said.

Save the Mary organisers were late yesterday using an email chain and SMS to gather a huge crowd to either celebrate victory in the campaign or to begin organising future resistance as soon as Mr Garrett’s intent is known.

Ms Pickersgill said a public meeting would be held on the evening of the announcement to seek guidance from supporters and the community about what next steps to take.

If Mr Garrett approves the dam, Ms Pickersgill said his statement of reasons for that decision would determine the grounds for any court appeal.

She said the minister should also release the full report of recommendations from his department.

“I feel pretty confident the science backs us,” Ms Pickersgill said.

“If Garrett decides on the science his answer will be no.”

A bitter Greater Mary Association spokesman David Kreutz said failure to clearly state when a decision would be made had just built anxiety in the entire Mary Valley community.

Mr Kreutz said the past two weeks had been indicative of the entire conduct of the saga.

“It has been playing water torture with the community,” he said.

Gympie Uniting Church minister, the Reverend Iain Watt, said the community had felt powerless in the face of the government’s determination to push the dam through.

Opinion: Betting on a dam good decision


Bligh urged to face music on dam

Judge rules out lungfish report

Decision time for dam arrives

Read more about the ongoing controversy of the Traveston dam.

Is this really it? Will Remembrance Day also act as a reminder of Garrett's controversial decision from now on? What do you think? Leave your comments below...

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