Mergers set to remain

By Mark Furler in Brisbane

Queensland's first female premier Anna Bligh has ruled out backing down on the Traveston dam or council amalgamations but admitted they could have been handled better.

Ms Bligh said last week she would not overturn forced mergers of Queensland councils as she had supported them in cabinet, voted for them in parliament, and believed they were in Queensland's best interests.

"To be frank I think we could have and should have handled it better along the way but I supported them because I think they are imperative for the long-term future of Queensland," Ms Bligh told editors at an APN News and Media conference in Brisbane just hours after her election as leader by the Labor caucus.

"I think it would be a very big mistake to walk away from it now."

The premier-elect acknowledged both the Traveston dam and the council mergers had caused a lot of heartache, and the government had to work hard to help local communities heal.

"I don't underestimate how painful it is in some communities, some more than others, and I have a big task ahead of me in reconciliation ... but I don't think the way to do that is to walk away from the tough decisions," she said.

On the Traveston dam, Ms Bligh said she firmly believed, after carefully considering advice from all the experts, that the Traveston dam was the best water supply option for south-east Queensland.

She said she had more confidence in that view after the recent deluge on the Coast which she said would have filled the dam to 60%.

But she admitted there was always the possibility that federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull could knock it back on environmental grounds.

On the merger issue, Ms Bligh said she would ensure local government minister Andrew Fraser was out there helping the transition to regional councils.

Ms Bligh also acknowledged Queensland had to do a better job in managing growth.


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