People power prevails over dam
TRIUMPHANT cheers and cries of relief rang out across the Mary Valley yesterday as Peter Garrett lived up to his reputation and scrapped the Traveston dam plan.
As the Federal Government’s Environment Minister made his way to the microphone to give his decision at a press conference in Brisbane, Mary Valley residents remained hopeful while they watched and waited for the one word they wanted to hear.
It took just seconds for Mr Garrett to put their minds at ease by announcing a distinct “no” to the dam on environmental and scientific grounds.
Emotions, strung high from three-and-a-half years of fighting the Bligh government’s dam proposal, were let loose on farms and properties, and in the main streets of Imbil and Kandanga.
“This is absolutely the best day ever,” Christine Blyton told The Gympie Times.
“Our lives can now carry on and my children don’t have to worry about their home being flooded. They’ll know what it’s like to stick up for themselves in protest and not lose the fight.”
Fay Johnston said she never doubted for one minute that the dam would be rejected.
“I’ve been confident all along … I’ve never lost a night’s sleep,” she said.
“We (Save the Mary River Co-ordinating Group) are only a small group but it’s not the size of us that counts, it’s the fight and determination of the people.”
It was people power that prevailed yesterday, a day marked to reflect on those who lost their lives in war will now also be remembered by Mary Valley and Fraser Coast residents as the day they helped shape this nation.
“If the decision had been a yes, (the government) would have left a legacy of shame. The Mary Valley people have been vindicated,” Sally Mackay said.
Residents Victor and Helga Hill were enjoying the noisy celebrations and said many years of hard work had finally paid off.
Mr Hill was the creator of many of the roadside signs that lined the Bruce Highway throughout the Mary Valley protests.
He said he was already thinking of a whole series of new signs to spread word of the victory.
“I’m gonna stick it to those bastards. I’ll be writing some new signs to tell everyone we’ve won.
“It’s the only decision (Peter Garrett) could have given – a yes would’ve been politically motivated. I’ve written numerous letters to him – this time he will get one congratulating him on what he has done.
“He’s assured himself to get elected at the next election (and) I can now listen to Midnight Oil – he’s my hero.”"
Mary Valley pastor Iain Watt said the community had gone through many ups and downs in the past three-and-a-half years.
“It will take a lot to put things back together. This has been a chaotic devastation for our community. The State Government put an awful lot of pressure on people to go.
“This proves people can change decisions made by the government.”