Mr Speaker, I rise in support of the Member for Nanango’s motion calling for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the design, construction, and operation of the Paradise Dam and the Government’s decision to lower the dam wall by 5 metres.
I have been inundated with stories from Bundaberg residents about the flaws in the construction of Paradise Dam. This hasn’t just been one or two stories since Labor announced their ludicrous plan to reduce the dam to 42% of it’s capacity, it’s been multiple residents day after day. In fact, since work began on the dam rumors have circulated within our community regarding it’s construction, but nobody has wanted to formally put their name to these rumors due to the fear of retribution.
Labor claims they are reducing the spillway because of sudden safety concerns relating to the dam’s original build. But, despite their ongoing spiel about the importance of safety, Labor has failed to release any reports or any specific details to the public, leaving everybody completely in the dark.
Safety of residents should always be paramount, and the government should always be transparent. But unfortunately, being open and honest is usually the last thing on this Government’s mind.
The stories I have heard about the Paradise dam build are worrying to say the least. And I know I speak on behalf of the Bundaberg region when I say it’s time we got to the bottom of this mess and find out the truth once and for all.
That’s why the LNP is calling for a full parliamentary inquiry. A public parliamentary inquiry would provide those involved in the dam’s construction with the opportunity to speak up. It’s the only way they will feel comfortable sharing their knowledge, knowing they are fully protected by parliamentary privilege. It’s their insight that is so desperately needed.
Everybody understands that reducing the dam to less than half its capacity will permanently decrease water security in our region. It’s something that is causing immense anxiety for those involved in our local agricultural industries.
Over the years, many farmers have migrated to our amazing region and many businesses have committed millions of dollars because of the significant and secure water supply Paradise Dam was promised to provide. But now, Labor has destroyed the security our farmers once had, putting the livelihoods of hundreds of Wide Bay Burnett families at risk.
Water security isn’t the only concern though. Labor’s decision to release 105,000 megalitres of stored water is a massive slap in the face and a stab in the heart to all Queenslanders currently experiencing drought. Two thirds of our state is drought declared, including the Bundaberg region and there are communities who will completely run out of water by Christmas. Yet, Labor has decided that the water release is A-OK.
The Minister even claims the water is ‘free’ for farmers, but the reality is the vast majority of this water will be wasted because Labor gave no notice of its release so no one had any time to prepare – the sudden unannounced decision has taken everyone by surprise.
Mr Speaker, the water will actually flow right passed my office in Bundaberg’s town centre, down the Burnett River and out to the ocean. What a complete and utter waste.
We must also think about what this permanent wall reduction could mean for Bundaberg in a future flood event. As everybody in this house should know, in 2013 Bundaberg experienced a record flood event, causing major destruction and inundation to over 3000 homes, 600 businesses and major community infrastructure.
North Bundaberg had the biggest mandatory evacuation in peacetime Australia where some 7500 residents were evacuated from their homes. But, despite all this, Labor hasn’t even given our city a thought when it comes to what a change in the spillway could mean for Bundaberg in the next flood. What flood modeling has been done on this decision?
As the flood recovery coordinator for the 2013 disaster, I know firsthand that the vast majority of data that’s been used for flood modelling for Bundaberg city is based on the current spillway level and any changes to the level has the potential to significantly impact that modelling.
We need urgent confirmation from Labor that new modeling that reflects the reduction has been completed in order to assure our community that the change will not have a more severe impact on people’s homes, businesses and local infrastructure when the next flood event strikes.
It’s both extraordinary and awfully concerning to think that a modern dam that cost hardworking taxpayers $200 million can’t last longer than 13 years. It is the biggest infrastructure fail in Qld’s history. There are so many questions that need answering and I will not give up until Bundaberg knows the truth about the Labor debacle that is Paradise Dam.
That is why this Parliamentary Inquiry is required and why I, on behalf of the Bundaberg community, wholeheartedly support the Leader of the Opposition’s motion.
Watch my speech here.