Hunt calls in on our Valley

MARY Valley communities are long overdue to receive promised federal support for “a pure Mary Valley brand,” to promote its future as a “centre of excellence for agriculture, sport and eco-tourism,” Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt said this week.

Mr Hunt visited Kandanga this week to talk to the former anti-dam activists who are now turning their energies towards rebuilding the district’s future.

He said Valley residents were long overdue in getting support for their plans, something he said had been promised by his rival, Environment Minister Peter Garrett, when Mr Garrett made his historic “no dam” announcement in Brisbane last year.

He said the area had suffered from having its economic activity taken out, not just by the dam proposal but by dairy deregulation and other pressures.

“We’ve gone from 27 dairy farms to six.

“What we agreed (at the Kandanga meeting) is that we need the Federal Government to support the push for a new vision, a Mary Valley brand, built on restoring premium agriculture – high quality, high grade agriculture and promoting its unique environmental assets.

“We need a new profile for the area, linking it to clean, green agriculture and a beautiful environment for a range of recreational pursuits – trail riding, mountain bikes, boating, car rallies, walking.

“But the backbone has to be agriculture and they need federal money to support them in achieving these aims.

“That was promised but it hasn’t been delivered,” he said.

“Warren Truss (federal Wide Bay MP) received a letter today saying people can just apply for normal environmental grants but this breaches an expressed, clear and absolute promise made at the time of the Traveston Dam announcement,” he said.

Valley residents and supporters from all over Australia will celebrate the dam victory next weekend with their annual “floatilla” of kayaks down the river they saved.

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