Watery campaigning

I visited Maryborough, Bundaberg and Gympie today, travelling around in a small twin engine plane and driving the last part from Gympie back to Brisbane, getting back home about 11pm.

I spoke mainly about water issues (as well as about the specific importance of the Queensland Senate contest, which not surprisingly I do everywhere I go). As seems to often happen when I’m campaigning on water, it rained almost the entire day, which meant some low slow flying staying below the clouds and a fair bit of circling looking for breaks in the storm clouds while waiting to land.
I don’t really like doing rapid-fire visits to towns. It feels rather artificial to charge into a place, talk to a few people or hold one meeting, tell the media why you’re there and then leave again. However, when your electorate is the size of Queensland and there’s an election campaign on, it is sometimes necessary.
The destructive, expensive and unnecessary Traveston dam was the main topic of conversation in Gympie, which is the main town in the region being hit the hardest and most immediately by the dam, and in Maryborough which is downstream.
There has been less attention paid to the areas and consequences downstream of the dam wall, but opposition is growing and getting more organised in this area too. After it passes through Gympie, the Mary River flows down past Maryborough and Hervey Bay through Ramsar wetlands of international significance and into the world heritage listed Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Island.

The impact on water quality and environmental flows downstream into this very sensitive and significant bird and fish breeding habitat has not much focus, but is very important in its own right. The hugely significant and endangered Queensland lungfish has received most of the attention in regards to the environmental impacts of the dam, and to a lesser extent the rare Mary River turtle. But the impact on species and biodiversity downstream also merits closer examination.

Of course even without the massive environmental impacts, the proposed Traveston dam is a less reliable, more expensive and energy intensive piece of water infrastructure than many other alternatives. But the state government does seem grimly determined to build it no matter what, which leaves the ball very much in the federal government’s court to use their powers under federal environment law to stop the thing.

I see it as my role to do all I can to help people locally to ensure the federal government fulfils its legal obligation to stop such an environmentally destructive and unnecessary project. It is unfortunate that there has been so little public opposition to such a wasteful and destructive project from the people of Brisbane, which is where a lot of the water from the dam would eventually be pumped to – the energy and financial cost just from continually pumping such a large volume of water such a long distance is a big enough argument in itself to pursue alternatives.

The dam seems to breach aspects of the federal environment law more directly than the pulp mill in Tasmania, yet more Brisbane people seem concerned about the pulp mill than the destructive dam just up the road! This really does strike me as odd, but I can only assume far too many of us have been taken in by the Queensland government’s propaganda avalanche implying that Brisbane will run out of water in the future unless the dam is built.

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  1. at what point will pollies admit there are enough people on this continent? never.

    if you leave your nation in the hands of property developers, there’ll be ‘another’ dam, power station, desal plant in the works forever, or until environmental degradation can no longer be papered over with yet more development.

    wake up, folks, this planet is not a bottomless well, the water bucket is already coming up dry.

  2. There are only so many days in a year that one can wake up…to Al!? Use a bucket you…B…….!

  3. I would argue, Al, that pollies haven’t yet realised that the people on this continent are using too many resources – and using them inefficiently at that.

    What’s happened in Brisbane and other places in Australia regarding water has shown that people can quite easily use a great deal less of this when it’s clear they need to.

    I am sure that the same could be done with electricity, petrol, but perhaps not oxygen. All it takes is some concerted and consistent public education campaigns, accompanied by fines and/or pricing measures.

  4. sorry, phillip, i’m in henny-penny mode this year, courage, mon brave!

    mm, efficiency doesn’t matter much. what counts is acknowledging there is a limit. i worry about anyone who can’t figure that out, but having these people running the country should scare everyone.

  5. I lived on the Mary River for a few years. The mangroves there are home to Illidges ant blue butterfly, an endangered species which has the most amazing life cycle; the larvae are raised by ants. There are many delicate ecosystems that will be affected by this dam from the seagrass beds of the sandy straits to the riparian and aquatic systems of the Mary itself. The potential consequences of the dam are just disastrous.

  6. With all of the fuss over the Traveston Dam, I’m surprised the Greens have not been polling better in Queensland.

    I think most of us are more interested in the 3 basic requirements of life – water, food and sex, in that order – than we are in a pulp mill.

    A dam that will take 5 years to build will not save us from dying of thirst in the short term. So the government is right to push ahead with water restrictions, water grid, recycling and desalination as the initial lines of defence.

    But getting back to pulp, why has the government not banned the use of disposable nappies? Or encouraged the use of handkerchiefs?

    It’s quite a simple matter to soak 2 days’ worth of nappies (a full load) in the washing machine overnight with appropriate detergent – then switch the machine on when you crawl out of bed.

    By the time you are ready for work (or whatever), they are ready to hang – a huge saving on money, and the nappies will be a lot cleaner as well.

    If your baby is susceptible to rashes, you can put a cup of vinegar (acid) in the final rinse to neutralise ammonia (alkali) from urine.

    This method also saves disabled people from having to lift heavy nappy buckets – also toddlers from drowning in them.

    Parents could also try toilet training their children sooner. These days, a lot of kids are still in nappies beyond the age of 3. Most can be easily trained in the daytime by age 2.

    My brother was completely out of nappies by 18 months. I don’t know how much this had to do with 5 older females directing him to the potty!

    Child care centres used to supply and launder their own cloth nappies. Now I think most (if not all) of them require parents to bring their own disposables.

    Perhaps someone more knowledgeable could tell us.

    al loomis:

    Yes, that makes good logical sense. Are you going to vote this time?

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