Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe brought good news and money to the Mary Valley yesterday.
Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe brought good news and money to the Mary Valley yesterday. Renee Pilcher

Govt supports valley rebuild

THE Queensland Government took a big step yesterday towards consigning the Traveston Crossing dam debacle to history.

In the first Cabinet-level visit to the Mary Valley since well before it was rejected by Environment Minister Peter Garrett last year, state Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe expressed sympathy for the disruption suffered by Valley residents.

And he brought a fistful of dollars to help smooth the early road to recovery.

He promised another $300,000 to help Gympie Regional Council’s economic planning process, indicating an “expectation” that Mary Valley issues would receive a high priority in council decisions on how the money is to be spent.

He also promised “no forestry mono-culture,” enhanced community engagement in the planning process and the eviction of the widely hated government dam building company, Queensland Water Infrastructure.

MR Hinchliffe stressed that former Mary Valley landowners interested in buying back their properties were only required to express their interest by June 30.

“This is not a binding contract. That is not how we see it,” he said.

“We might not have contracts for some months.

“The transfer of the (government owned land in the Mary Valley) from QWI to the Department of Infrastructure is quite deliberate.

“It’s about a start on planning for the future,” Queensland Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe told a handful of community representatives at Imbil RSL Hall yesterday. After June 30, it won’t be QWI’s business.”

While insisting that the government’s grant of $300,000 for further economic development planning was untied, Mr Hinchliffe said it was the government’s “expectation” that Gympie Regional Council would prioritise Mary Valley planning issues.

“They’ll be gone from the Valley,” he said.

He also promised that government planning input would ensure that agriculture would “maintain its key role, with a range of complementary activities.”

He said he understood the suffering of the community and hoped the community would continue to stick together.

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