“IN all sincerity, I think we’ve lost a great opportunity,” Kerren Smith said in response to the Federal Environment Minister’s surprise announcement to scrap the proposed Traveston Dam.
The owner of engineering company J Smith and Sons said his largest concern was the major hole it would cause to the growth of the community.
“At the end of the day I am disappointed that it didn’t go ahead because a project of that size has the potential to help local industry and business grow, which would have been very positive for the economy of Gympie.”
Mr Smith disagreed that the benefits of the dam would have been short-term.
He said if it got the go-ahead, the dam would have changed the dynamics of the Gympie economy and been a catalyst to attract people with higher skills to the region. He believed the dam would have lifted the socio-economic base of Gympie.
“If you look at infrastructure projects going on in the southeast corner, we are on the fringe of that,” he told The Gympie Times.
“People would have moved here to work on the dam and discovered they liked the Gympie lifestyle. Once the dam was completed, this region would’ve been a base for skilled people to service future southeast Queensland infrastructure projects.”
Mr Smith spoke for many businesses when he said the dam would have changed the region’s dynamics by attracting income from outside the community.
“Certainly the dam would have helped local industry and businesses grow to service other projects,” he said and gave the example of a farm-based business near the Paradise Dam that was contracted to work on the project. Before the dam, the business employed three people which increased to 24 employees during construction.
“From that growth (the owner) was able to purchase land in Childers and set up base with an industrial shed to give him the room to grow. He has benefited from the relationships he built with major contractors and the business is now doing work for them in other areas. Because of the dam the owner has established a good solid business with customers outside his area and now has a core staff of about 14.”