SECRET intervention by Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister saved the Mary Valley from the Traveston Crossing dam, it was revealed yesterday.
In an exclusive interview, the ex-PM's cousin, Mary Valley grazier Chris De Vere told The Gympie Times: "Without Kevin Rudd, there would now be a dam in the Mary Valley.
"Garrett made the announcement, but Rudd made the decision," he said, referring to the 2009 anti-dam ruling by then federal environment minister Peter Garrett.
Even in Opposition, Rudd took an interest in the dam, he said.
"He sent Albanese into the area in secret to have a look for him," Mr De Vere said.
All this was during the last weeks of John Howard's prime ministership, when Anthony Albanese was shadow minister for infrastructure and water.
By Christmas in 2007, Howard and the Liberal-led coalition had been ousted and replaced by the Rudd administration, which included Garrett as Environment Minister and Albanese running Infrastructure.
The Traveston Crossing dam had been announced the previous year by then Queensland premier Peter Beattie, but needed federal environmental approval.
By 2009, Anna Bligh was running the state and seemed even more determined than Beattie on the issue.
That ceased on November 11, when Garrett made his announcement in Brisbane.
"Rudd was in Afghanistan visiting the troops at the time," Mr De Vere revealed.
"Anna Bligh was trying to ring him and couldn't get through because he was in a war zone. She was livid.
"People in the Mary Valley dismiss him because he was Labor. But they shouldn't, because he saved them.
"The old man had a pretty big role in it too," he said, referring to his father, Kevin De Vere, Rudd's uncle and former Widgee Shire chairman, the man after whom Kevin Rudd was named.
Kev De Vere said yesterday he thought his famous nephew had done the right thing by retiring.
"Labor's going to be in the doldrums for a long time and he had achieved everything he could.
"We both did 15 years and no parole," he said, referring to his time on the former Widgee Shire Council, which surrounded Gympie City and governed much of the rural country from Imbil to Rainbow Beach.
"He never had it easy. His father died when he was a child and he had heart trouble.
"It's time he started to enjoy a bit of life. They won't be broke."
Mr De Vere said he had kept in touch with Mr Rudd's sister in Nambour but in politics, his namesake had had "a lot on his plate for 15 years".
Rudd, a De Vere on his mother's side, had close family ties to the Sunshine Coast and Gympie region.
Along with former ally and subsequent arch enemy Wayne Swan, he went to Nambour State High School and always maintained an affinity with this part of the world.
"He's bought a house at Noosa so he'll be around.
"I'll definitely see him soon," Kevin De Vere said.