QLD unblocks dam lowering
The Queensland Government has rushed through amendments to allow work to reduce the height of the spillway at Australia's second-newest dam.
The Palaszczuk Government passed amendments on Friday to remove the need for multiple levels of approval before works at the Paradise Dam start, angering stakeholders and the Opposition with a lack of consultation and transparency.
The Government and dam operator Sunwater announced last year that 105,000 megalitres of water would be released from Paradise Dam near Bundaberg, reducing it to 42 per cent capacity for safety reasons.
Now that the releases are finished, the operators want to permanently reduce the height of the dam's spillway ahead of next wet season.
The Government has also announced an independent inquiry into the structural issues at the dam, after technical reports revealed faults originating from its initial construction.
Last week’s amendments allow Sunwater to carry out the works without obtaining any other approvals.
“What is the rush? Labor's known about the issue since 2015 but suddenly the wall needs to come down right now,” LNP Member for Bundaberg David Batt said.
“We have incredible produce, incredible soil and, up until recently, we had incredible water security. That was until Labor decided to reduce Paradise dam to 42 per cent capacity with no real plan to reinstate the lost volume in future.
“Why not wait until the commission of inquiry and the Building Queensland report are finalised in the next two months? Is there something those opposite aren't telling us?”
Minister for Natural Resources, Anthony Lynham, says the changes are necessary and need to happen soon.
“I will not stand here as a minister and have the population of Bundaberg and the Burnett at risk,” he said.
“The structural issues are there. Experts have advised that this dam is unsafe in circumstances such as Cyclone Oswald.
“What we hear [from the Opposition] is scaremongering … in the worst degree. My priority is the safety of people in Bundaberg and the Burnett.
“There's is an argument of confabulation and confusion. The structural integrity of the issues have been examined at length.”
A preliminary report by the Bundaberg Regional Council found an estimated $1 billion would be lost to the economy, the equivalent of one in five jobs, if the dam wall was lowered.