On the 4th August 2019 the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Anthony Lynham, gave the Brisbane Times a scoop. The minister did not send the media release to the Courier Mail so it didn’t get to run this story about Queensland’s new dam on the Southern Tablelands near Stanthorpe. The story in the Brisbane Times revealed the construction of Emu Swamp Dam to be completed by 2022.
What the Brisbane Times article does not say is that the proposed dam will be the first privately owned major dam* in Australia. The Queensland Labor Government is setting up a corporation limited by guarantee that will own the dam. So public monies, State and Federal, are being directly siphoned into a dam owned by a private business. Furthermore the Emu Swamp Dam corporation will apply to the Tax Office for exemption from Income Tax. We ask the Minister, who will the members of this company be? Who will reap the benefit of this publicly funded infrastructure? The Emu Swamp Dam Ltd will be ‘a company limited by guarantee‘ which means there can be no shareholders only members. The company can be sued but not the members, it can legally lease property, enter into contracts or hold assets in its name. Its members may hold unequal voting rights but apparently they will not in this case.
The Southern Downs Region of Queensland has been ravaged by drought and many thousands of apple trees are currently being ripped out. Fruit and tomato growers in the region say that they will not be planting in 2020.
The Emu Swamp Dam will be the first dam to be built in Queensland since the Wyralong Dam (2011) and Paradise Dam (2005) were constructed by state government. Wyralong is owned by statutory authority SEQ Water. The Paradise Dam is owned by a government-owned corporation, Burnett Water and had been promised since the 1950s. This was a pristine area near Biggenden. Sadly both the freshwater mullet and lung fish that abound in the Burnett were prevented from following their usual trek upriver by the dam wall, even though a ladder was constructed. The ladder for the fish to go above the dam wall never worked.
We ask – are dams the answer to climate change (extreme weather events – droughts and floods)? Mind you this privately owned $84M dam at Glen Alpin near Stanthorpe is necessary for horticulture in the granite belt.
More than half of the funding comes from the federal government, one quarter from the irrigators and the rest from the state government.
We ask why doesn’t the state have its own public works department build infrastructure instead of private non-union contractors? No dam should be privately owned. Building infrastructure to fund profit in the private sector, why? Must we be slaves to the Havard Business School thinking that dominates the thinking of Queensland Treasury?
And finally where shall the rain come this far inland to fill the dam?
3 Aug 2019
*Emu Swamp Dam is to be constructed by damming Severn River, a perennial river that forms part of the Border Rivers group, and is part of the Macintyre catchment of the Murray-Darling basin, located in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Australia.
Queensland’s first new dam in a decade to be built in parched Granite Belt
Queensland’s drought-wracked Granite Belt, home to the towns of Stanthorpe and Warwick, will finally have a secure water supply after the state government agreed to co-fund a new dam on the Severn River.
The Queensland government will add $13.6 million to the $70 million already promised by Stanthorpe irrigators ($23 million) and the federal government ($47 million) to build the Emu Swamp Dam.
It is hoped the dam, expected to be completed in 2022, would save lucrative crops and help Stanthorpe and Warwick residents already on extreme water restrictions using less than 100 litres per person per day.
The planned $84 million dam would inundate around 200 hectares of bushland scrub near Glen Aplin, about 10 minutes’ drive south of Stanthorpe, and provide 12,000 megalitres for the drought-stricken Granite Belt’s $283 million per year fresh produce market.
4 Aug 2019