Image: Mary Valley Chamber of Commerce president Col Huddy says the tender process is scaring away potential buyers of land owned by the State Government for the now defunct Traveston Dam project.
For five years since July 2006 the lives of Mary Valley residents have been turned upside down by the Queensland Government. At that time the then Premier Peter Beattie announced amid much fanfare that a new dam would be built at Traveston Crossing to supply Brisbane with water. Residents in the footprint of the dam were harassed and intimidated into selling their properties, and a huge area of productive land was effectively sterilized.
Around three and a half years later in November 2009, the federal Environment minister, Peter Garrett rejected the proposal noting that it could impact on a number of fish, turtles and frogs. The effect on people in the area was not considered a matter of concern at the time, but that seems to be the way in these modern, enlightened times.
In the two years since this event the value of the almost 500 properties acquired for the dam has declined by 50% from $449.5 million, to $225 million. The whole area is suffering severe economic repercussions owing to the huge area taken out of production. With the number of enterprises ruined in the process, unemployment has skyrocketed and the value of properties still in private hands has declined, causing stress on surviving landholders.
Rather than extract itself from a disastrous situation, the government has decided to stick with it and sell down its landholding in the area over the next twenty years. Amid much fanfare, three properties have been placed on the market. The premier Anna Bligh has stresses the need to avoid flooding the market with the 500 properties owned by the state in the area.
Rather than continue to hold these properties for the long term in the hope that market trends will eventually bring about a break-even point at the expense of the entire area, it would be better policy to place the lot on the market with a reasonable reserve in order to unload them to private owners who will then proceed to bring the area back into production.
The state government is perusing the incredibly stupid policy of paying the enormous interest bill on the purchases while continuing to keep vast areas out of production in the vague hope of getting the money back at some time in the dim distant future:
Real estate principal and Mary Valley landowner John Cochrane said what the government was trying to sell now was not what it had purchased several years ago. "They were (then) well run, well managed properties," he said.So, properties that people want are not for sale currently, while others are on the market but are not the ones the demand is for. Crazy.
Mr Huddy said those most affected were the residents and businesspeople who weren't bought out by the government, but who had lost business or property value in the fallout without any compensation. The Co-ordinator General is staggering the land sales to avoid flooding the market but only a handful of the properties have so far sold in a challenging market.
Rural property agent Amanda Bambling said strong buyer interest in three of the dam properties had been turned away because the land in question was not yet for sale.