Picture: Swamp News.
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
“feasible or not, we will build this dam....”
Peter Beattie, as Qld Premier.
A decision by the federal environment minister, Peter Garret has put an end to a long saga in this area as to the building of the Traveston Crossing dam. The reason given was the risk to a number of rare endangered species, including the unique Australian lungfish, and the Mary River turtle.
In a generally misguided and incredibly stupid decision the state government decided to build a massive $1.8 billion dam in a shallow low lying area of the Mary River to supply water to Brisbane. It was to cover something like 20,000 acres to an average depth of 6 meters (20 feet). Thousands of acres of prime farmland were to be covered by very shallow water in full sunshine creating a massive evaporation problem, with a disproportionate heating factor when considered against dams built in suitable locations.
The Anna Bligh legacy to the state was to be a huge stinking algal swamp, poisoning the entire valley below it. In some ways given her economic management of the state this is appropriate. (In fairness she did tout it as the ‘greenest’ dam ever built.)
Among the costs of the project would have been the need to reroute massive amounts of infrastructure, including the power grid and the main North/South highway. The most significant cost though was the need to forcibly resume around 900 properties, which equates to the displacement of probably 2.5 – 3000 people. While this is not large by Chinese standards, it is pretty big for around here.
This is a prime example of the old adage that nobody's life liberty or property is safe while parliament is sitting. While property rights are generally secure from private encroachment, they have no security when the government invokes “the common good."
It seems incredible to me that in the long run the destruction of the Mary Valley was only averted due to the presence of some fish, turtles and frogs etc. I am not in any way attempting to denigrate those who led the campaign on these issues, indeed we would all be poorer for the extinction of these species, and these people promoted the issue that saved the day.
Congratulations to them on that.
It is shocking though that the enormous economic costs, social disruption, waste of resources, incredible stupidity of the concept, and the crushing psychological burden to the victims of this outrage, counted for nothing. Right up to the announcement of the decision the Premier was waging psychological warfare on landholders attempting to force them to sell.
The fact is that once the government jumps in any direction, no matter how misguided, there is no real protection for their victims or their property rights. Any reasonable analysis of the plan in the first place would have eliminated the idea as impractical simply on the basis of the impact of such a move on the population, and the destruction of large areas of valuable productive land. Those in government and their minions dismiss the rights of those who are in the line of fire, after all no ruling class ever viewed the plight of their victims with anything but contempt and scorn.
Those who made the decision to carry out this plan as well as those who followed up on its attempted implementation have to be some of the most callous people ever to walk the halls of power and influence since the Nazis. There is no room for this sort of action in a free society.