POLITICAL manoeuvring in the crucial Brisbane seat of Ashgrove has re-ignited the Traveston Crossing dam as a state election issue, with apparent wavering by Ashgrove candidate and LNP leader Campbell Newman on his anti-dam stance.
In statements described by conservationists as “a complete backflip,” Mr Newman blasted the federal powers which enabled the dam to be blocked, saying “the use of federal environmental laws to stop major projects approved by the State Government was intolerable”.
Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council president Roger Currie said the remarks established “the hypocrisy of any claims by the LNP that they actually care about the people of the Mary Valley who vote for them, let alone any environmental values of the Mary River.”
Mr Newman was unavailable for comment this week, as he campaigns in Far North Queensland, through areas described by LNP staff as having intermittent mobile reception.
However, Gympie MP David Gibson said he had contacted Mr Newman, who had told him his criticism of federal law did not mean support for the dam and did not mean he was happy with State Government processes which allowed the dam to be put forward in the first place.
Mr Gibson said the LNP was “as committed as ever to there being no dam at Traveston Crossing”.
He said Mr Newman had assured Gympie people in April that the dam was not on, an assurance he and the party still adhered to.
“All of us involved in the fight against the Traveston Crossing dam would say the state's processes are flawed and that it should never have gone to Canberra.
“Campbell Newman is not wavering on Traveston Crossing at all.
“We had to rely on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act because there was nothing at a state level.
“I don't think anyone would disagree that the state's processes were flawed.”
He rejected a statement by Treasurer Andrew Fraser that the ALP would categorically rule out the dam.
“They ruled out a fuel tax and introduced one. They ruled out asset sales. It doesn't mean a thing.”
That news was accompanied this week by the announcement that popular anti-dam conservationist Bob Irwin is also considering contesting the seat, now held by ex-Environment Minister Kate Jones.