The public hearings are being held for the Senate Committee inquiry into water supplies in south-east Queensland, which is focused particularly on the proposed Traveston Dam on the Mary River just south of Gympie. There is a fairly full program of witnesses on both days.
The rest of the Committee spent Monday having a look at the planned site and surrounding areas, which I didn’t attend as I had already visited the area and had a hearing for a different Committee to go to. There is a train which goes every evening from Brisbane to Gympie, so I caught that last night rather than drive – it took about 3 hours rather than the 2 or so hours it takes to drive, but it was more relaxing and I could focus on working rather than driving.
The first day’s hearing is being held in Gympie today. I would not be surprised if it gets emotional at times, as there will be many people from the affected community, and I know the spectre of the dam has had a very traumatic impact on many people. The social impact is already happening and is often forgotten amongst the arguments about the environmental impacts and economics of the dam.
The second day’s hearing is at Waterfront Place in Brisbane, which for those interested in symbolism, is situated right at the bottom end of Mary St – for an inquiry that may influence the future of the Mary River. Having said that, the inquiry is meant to be into water supply issues in general, not just the Traveston Dam, and I hope we get the chance to look at alternative options, rather than just have a party political stoush over one particular dam.
The Brisbane hearing will include a witness whose submission argues there are significant flaws in the state government’s figures on the promised water yield from the ‘other’ dam, the Wyaralong dam on the Teviot Brook, near Boonah south-west of Brisbane. For political trivia buffs, each day will see a former Queensland Democrat Senator giving evidence – John Woodley as one of a group appearing on behalf of the Uniting Church locally in Gympie, and John Cherry in Brisbane in his current capacity as CEO of the Qld Farmers’ Federation.