Residents cheer as dam held off

Protesters were celebrating this week after Premier Anna Bligh told parliament construction of the Traveston Crossing Dam had been pushed back five years because of environmental concerns.

Ms Bligh said the government remained committed to the project, but anti-dam groups were reading the move as its death knell.

The premier told parliament that the Queensland coordinator general had advised her that in its present form the dam would not measure up to federal environment minister Peter Garrett’s requirements under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

It plans to spend more than $100 million minimising flora and fauna impacts before construction but Mary Valley residents say the area should be turned into the “food bowl” of south-east Queensland.

Sunshine Coast mayor Bob Abbot said the environmental problems caused by a dam were insurmountable and that it was past the beginning of the end for the project.

Member for Noosa Glen Elmes took the premier to task in a speech to parliament on Wednesday, labelling the government hypocritical and adding to the uncertainty that already weighed upon the lives on Mary Valley residents.

“As a dam site, it has been rejected before and should never have been put back on the agenda,” he told state parliament.

“The experts told the government it was wrong; local people who know the country told the government it was wrong; but instead of listening, this Labor government embarked on a campaign to destroy the Mary Valley community through something like death by a thousand cuts.

“The government is treating these Queenslanders like the stuff Labor wants to put in our drinking supply – you should all hang your heads in shame.”

Former member for Noosa Cate Molloy said the back-flip vindicated her decision to quit the Labor Party in opposition to the dam.

“Until they (the Labor party) have the fortitude and courage to say they were wrong, they are going to make themselves look very, very stupid,” she said.

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