House debates

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Adjournment

Petition: Traveston Crossing Dam

7:49 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water) Share this | Hansard source

I rise this evening to present a petition on Traveston Crossing dam and the protection of the magnificent Mary River on behalf of over 5,300 members of that community who have signed this petition. This petition, prepared by the Greater Mary Association, represents the will of the people of the Traveston basin area, of the Mary River area, of Hervey Bay and of those who live upon the straits near Hervey Bay. The message is very simple. It is a message to this parliament and to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Mr Garrett, to do two things: firstly, to recognise the profound international environmental value of the Mary River as a site containing many critically endangered species and threatened species; secondly, as the statement says, ‘We believe that the proposed Traveston Crossing dam will have a permanent detrimental impact on the fisheries and broader ecosystems of the Great Sandy Strait, the Mary River estuary and Hervey Bay.’ Therefore, this petition from over 5,300 signatories asks that Minister Garrett clearly commission research which determines environmental flows for the estuary based on modelling of water quality, including nutrients and salinity, in the estuary and the Great Sandy Strait matched with the requirements of the ecosystem and key species across all of the seasons.

I would like to put this petition in context. I have worked with both the Leader of the National Party, Warren Truss, and the member for Fairfax, Alex Somlyay, each of whom is passionate about this issue and each of whom has worked hard with the community, as well as together, to say that this dam is the wrong dam. This dam is a large, flat evaporative pond, which in hydrological terms is a disaster. It is also an environmental disaster and a human disaster. It is hydrologically ineffective—perhaps the least effective dam proposed in Australia for the last 30 years. I say this as somebody who is a strong supporter of new dams in appropriately deep cataracts or gorges which would add to our water supply without loss of significant quantities of water through evaporation.

It is an environmental disaster, which is the great test for Mr Garrett. The test for the environment minister is to allow processes to occur that will show that without doubt the loss of the lungfish and the loss of the ecology of the Mary River, the damage to and impact on wetlands of international significance, the damage to the ecology of the Great Sandy Strait and the damage to the ecology of Hervey Bay are significant and profound and that the proposal put forward by the Queensland government should not be allowed to continue in its current form. It is a great test for the minister for the environment, and I trust that he will discharge his duties under the EPBC Act according to those duties and not according to any political influence or pressure—and not according to the will of the Queensland government. This is an important moment.

The third element is the human impact. With Warren Truss and through Alex Somlyay, who has campaigned about this issue and this area relentlessly, I have visited and spoken to the people of Mary Valley. I have seen the magnificent farms—whether they be farming livestock or practising one of many different forms of agriculture in one of the most productive agricultural areas in Australia—that are about to be eradicated. This will be a dam of minimal depth but extraordinary surface area. It is almost inconceivable that this sort of dam could be built in the 21st century. This is a bad project in the wrong place with terrible hydrological elements and, above all else, environmental elements that demand the minister’s attention, as set out in the petition from over 5,300 people. The petition also demands the minister’s attention because it will be a disaster for the farming communities living at the proposed site of the Traveston Dam.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition is from concerned Australian residents and visitors to Australia.

We wish to convey to the House and Minister Garrett that we cherish the outstanding natural, recreational and economic values of Hervey Bay and our wetland of international significance, the Great Sandy Strait. We believe that the proposed Traveston Crossing dam will have a permanent detrimental impact on the fisheries and broader ecosystems of the Great Sandy Strait, the Mary River estuary and Hervey Bay.

We applaud Minister Garrett on the independent reviews he has already undertaken and ask that he commission and make public a detailed and thorough independent investigation of the optimal environmental flows needed to ensure that the ecosystems and fisheries of the Great Sandy Strait, Mary River estuary and Hervey Bay do not fall victim to excess water extraction from the Mary River associated with the proposed Traveston Crossing dam.

from 5,393 citizens

Petition received.

Comments

Elly Bingham
Posted on 18 Sep 2009 7:58 am (Report this comment)

You have GOT to be joking!! There are not 5393 citizens in the Mary Valley who oppose to the Traveston Crossing Dam! Where did the 'petitioners' come from? Victoria? The UK? Germany? Tourists just travelling on through?
Mr Greg Hunt, you appear to have simply followed the 'Save the Mary' line to the letter. Almost word for word of the diatribe that we hear each day from the anti-dammers. You didn't ask all the people who I meet on a daily basis who WANT the dam - for economical, environmental and lifestyle reasons.
How much more stupidity do we in the Mary Valley have to endure. I lived there. Now I don't. But I work there and know that these so-called petitioners must have been coerced or otherwise brainwashed into signing such a thing.
The Mary River is a degraded system, degraded by years of bad farming practice, from ignorance or necessity - that continues to this very day - and has allowed several flora and fauna species to become at risk.
What is proposed for the Mary Valley is to replace weed vegetation with native species (around 3 million trees) and breed and build up populations of the animals that are currently at risk.
Oh, and let's not forget that the proposal is to supply water to the SE of Queensland. Didn't Brisbane nearly run out of water last year? Aren't most of the other regions suffering terrible water shortage? Aren't there lots of people moving into this fine state every year? If we have had water shortages to date, how are we going to look after people as they move in??
This dam will link up to the water grid and will make us the only state that has a reliable source of water.
I'm glad I live here. I consider it a privilege.
The massive amount of water that flows out to sea and is not harvested, in this day and age is a crime. Shocking waste, when we have the opportunity to save the water, improve the river habitat, increase the native population of animals and trees and provide water to the human population.
A dam in the Mary Valley will save the Mary Valley.