Mayors unite to block dam, find own solution

MAYORS representing 500,000 Queenslanders yesterday unanimously declared their active opposition to the Traveston Crossing dam.

The Mayors, meeting in Gympie, unanimously allocated $125,000 to hire a water resource consultant to come up with credible, scientifically researched water resource alternatives.

"We represent nearly half a million people. That's a lot of people power and too much for the Government to ignore," Cooloola Mayor Mick Venardos said.

He was speaking after a closed meeting at the shire's Nash Street meeting room.

The meeting was attended by other Mary Basin mayors including Noosa's Bob Abbot, Kilkivan's Ron Dyne, Tiaro's Linda Harris, Maryborough's Barbara Hovard and Maroochy's Joe Natoli, along with Hervey Bay Deputy Mayor Mick Kruger, Tiaro Deputy Mayor Darryl Stewart, Cr Jenny Bunton from Maryborough and Cr Greg Rogerson, whose Maroochy Shire division includes Kenilworth and is directly affected by the dam.

Also at the meeting were Noosa Council engineer Alan Sheridan, a member of the Save the Mary River anti-dam steering team, and Cooloola Shire engineer Bob Fredman.

"We're in a real crisis, politically and climate-wise" Cr Abbot told the meeting. "And it's a crisis we need to address with facts."

Cr Natoli said the consultant's report "will be valuable for the whole of South East Queensland".

"THE State Government should have done it already. But if the State Government isn't prepared to do it, we will," Cr Natoli said.

Cr Venardos said all Mayors of Mary Valley councils had attended the meeting, except for Caloundra's Don Aldous, who had been unable to attend but who had expressed support in principle for the consultancy plan.

In a direct criticism of Premier Peter Beattie, Cr Venardos said: "They've exercised emergency powers and that doesn't sit well with a lot of people.

"In 2006 and in a democratic society, taking people with you is better than being aggressive.

"The desalination plant proposed for the northern end of Bribie Island on unallocated State land is a better idea. "Brisbane has massive problems and the immediate solution is water conservation.

"Up to two million people in South East Queensland need to realise they have a problem and to deal with it, rather than traumatising the people of the Mary Valley."

"Part of the problem is the decisions have been so rushed. It's important to have public discussion and involvement," he said.

Cr Harris said Tiaro was 100 per cent in support of the mayors' unified action. "I think it's going to make an impression. We have to work on positive strategies."

Her deputy, Cr Stewart said Government figures indicated that the dam would stop all downstream flows for much of the year, with consequences for agriculture, the environment and drinking water supplies for growing towns.

Cr Rogerson said he was proud of Maroochy's involvement.

"We have probably the fewest people affected, but we want to make a major contribution to this united front.

"If we're going to have a Smart State, we've got to look at some smart ideas.

"I feel really proud of all the councils for putting their hands in their pockets on this," he said.

Prof Stuart White, of Sydney's University of Technology, attended the meeting but did not confirm that he would be the consultant on the project.

It was up to the Mayors who was appointed.

"It's very valuable that they are doing this in a positive and constructive way," he said.

The professor, who directs the Sydney-based Institute for Sustainable Futures, said he had recently reviewed Sydney's water supply strategies.

"There are things the State Government is doing well ? demand management and leakage repairs.

"The Traveston Crossing dam cannot solve the immediate problem."

Gympie Times

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