Coast savours dam victory

IT WAS a fight that transcended the boundaries of politics – and that was never more evident than on Saturday in Maryborough’s Queens Park when those who had fought the good fight against the Traveston Crossing Dam came together to celebrate their victory.

From Independent Maryborough MP Chris Foley to Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen – and several in the crowd who counted themselves as Labor voters but still fought against the dam – it was clear that the fight against the dam had little to do with a particular political persuasion.

Several of the most committed in the fight against the dam, including Daryl Stewart, Glenda Pickersgill and Tanzi Smith, spoke of the emotions they felt when the decision was delivered on the dam by federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, describing themselves as “stunned” and “overjoyed”.

Several Fraser Coast politicians also spoke, including the federal Minister for Wide Bay, Warren Truss, who spoke of his reaction after he heard that Mr Garrett had canned the dam.

Mr Truss said that five minutes after the decision was made he was contacted by the press and, as he had known a decision was due to be made, he already had two press releases prepared – one for a decision to go ahead with the dam and one in case Mr Garrett decided to veto the dam.

“It was a beauty,” Mr Truss said wryly of the response to be released if the dam was given the tick of approval.

“But I was pleased I didn’t have to use it.”

Mr Truss spoke of seeing Mr Garrett shortly before he made his decision on the dam and said there were no hints prior to his announcing the decision.

“There was no body language – I feared the worst.”

Mr Truss said the decision to stop the dam was the only result that science could support.

“Anna Bligh needs to make peace with the Mary Valley and quickly.”

Mr Sorensen spoke of sharing Mr Garrett’s announcement of his decision with Gympie MP David Gibson.

He said it was clear from the morning session of parliament that Queensland Premier Anna Bligh had no idea the dam would be vetoed by Mr Garrett.

“In parliament that morning she spoke, telling everyone about how important it was to build the Traveston dam.”

Mr Foley brought some light relief to the event, saying he had seen Ms Bligh after the decision was made with “steam coming out of her ears”.

Mr Foley told the group to savour their victory and to be mindful of how close the community had come to losing its river and their livelihoods.

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