Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Petition: Traveston Crossing Dam
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