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LNP machine resurrects Labor’s Mary dam

NO DAM: The Obi Obi Valley would be dammed at Obi Obi Gorge had the idea gained traction at the LNP convention.
NO DAM: The Obi Obi Valley would be dammed at Obi Obi Gorge had the idea gained traction at the LNP convention. Contributed

THE Gympie and Wide Bay LNP hierarchy has apparently declared war on a large section of its Mary Valley and Great Sandy Region support base, with plans to resurrect in new form Labor's Mary River dam and take the catchment's water to Brisbane.

The proposals put forward by the party's Wide Bay Federal Divisional Council and Gympie State Electorate Council would have dammed the Mary River at Cambroon, near Conondale, and alienated voters in six state electorates.

Although defeated on the floor of last weekend's LNP state convention in Brisbane, the fact that they were moved at all prompted serious questioning of the politics or even sanity behind a move seen by many as political suicidal.

With Labor kicked out the door from Caboolture to Bundaberg over the Traveston Crossing dam, the motions potentially posed a threat to at least five LNP seats, including Glass House, held by Environment Minister Andrew Powell.

The proposals were for a Cambroon dam that would have inundated thousands of farm and lifestyle acres around Conondale and cut off Mary River flows from there downstream.

They also called for a second dam on Obi Obi Gorge, a raised Borumba Dam, a dam on Amamoor Creek and pumps to send the water to Brisbane.

The LNP's Mary River organisation moves to dam the Mary and its tributaries were defeated after what Gympie MP David Gibson described as a critically important speech by Mr Powell.

As the implications of the proposal sunk in yesterday, reaction ranged from anger to derision, with Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council president Roger Currie saying the groups behind it "appear to have severe learning difficulties".

As with the Traveston Crossing dam, the proposals, which would have had the same effect on river flows, would have destroyed irrigation farming along the Mary, destroyed already endangered species such as the Mary Valley turtle and cod and decimated the fishing and fishing tourism economies of the Fraser Coast and Cooloola Coast regions, from Hervey Bay to Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach.

Bay fisherman Joe McLeod was stunned.

"They seem to have this view that any water that flows to the ocean is wasted, but if you want to have scallops, prawns and fish, you need flood plumes and the nutrients they carry to kick start the food chain," he said.

"And you need it to provide fresh and brackish water corridors to allow young fish to migrate.

"Without that you have no scallops, no prawns and no commercial or recreational fishing."

Speaking just after the annual fishing tourist boom that accompanies the Rainbow Beach Fishing Classic, Mr McLeod said recreational fishing was worth many millions of dollars, probably much more than commercial fishing or any other primary industry in the region.

As with the Traveston Crossing proposal, the new LNP regional organisation's ideas would have also cut off vital water flows to internationally protected Ramsar wetlands in the Great Sandy Strait and damaged the ecology of World Heritage listed Fraser Island.

Mr Gibson said he supported raising the Borumba Dam but would be very critical of any move to dam the Mary, after his experience fighting the Traveston Crossing dam.

The anti-dam campaign was spearheaded by conservative politicians including then Cooloola mayor Mick Venardos, Nationals Senator Ron Boswell and Mr Gibson.

Topics:  andrew powell dam mary valley

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