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Anti-dam protests to continue -

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Anti-dam protests to continue

Charlotte Glennie reported this story on Monday, September 14, 2009 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: Queensland's Premier is defending her Government's support for the proposed Traveston
Dam in southeast Queensland.

Residents of the Mary Valley whose homes will be submerged if construction goes ahead, are vowing
to continue to fight the dam. But Premier Anna Bligh says that without the new project, two million
Queenslanders could be left without drinking water.

Construction could now start as early as next year if the Federal Government gives it the green
light, as Charlotte Glennie reports from Brisbane.

(Sound of protesters.)

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Southeast Queensland's $1.5 billion Traveston Crossing dam proposal has angered
residents of the Mary Valley since it was first proposed three years ago. *(See editor's note.)

Glenda Pickersgill is the president of the Save the Mary River Coordinating Group.

GLENDA PICKERSGILL: We don't believe that it is a reliable water supply for southeast Queensland.
It is not economic. It doesn't stack in the public's eye. Mentally and socially, it is very, very
damaging.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The State Government says more than 330 properties will be affected by the dam
and it's already bought out 85 per cent of them. However Glenda Pickersgill says the dam's impact
will be felt much wider.

GLENDA PICKERSGILL: It is not just the people that are in the proposed inundation area but it is
all the communities downstream that rely on fresh water for all the fisheries, the water supply as
well as the people that will be disturbed because of rerouting of roads and telecommunications and
so forth.

It affects families, it breaks up families. A whole community there is being affected, your friends
are being, are moving away.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Nonetheless Queensland's coordinator-general has signed off on a draft report
into controversial project. Last year it had been put on hold because of environmental concerns.

But the State Government says tough requirements have now been introduced to protect endangered
species like lungfish, Mary River cod and turtles.

The state's Premier Anna Bligh makes no apology for her support of plan.

ANNA BLIGH: There is no get out of jail card on providing water for the fastest-growing region in
Australia. If the Federal Government knocks this back then we go back to the drawing board with
some other very, very tough choices.

Nobody is going to want a desalination plant in their backyard and no one wants to pay more for
water so there are no easy options here but what I will not do is do nothing.

I think it is fair to say that we've just come through a period where we came perilously close to
running out of water and there was, I think to be fair, some criticism that said governments should
have planned better for that eventuality. Well, I am not going to go to sleep at the wheel just
because we have had some rain in the dam.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: But the dam's fate now rests with the Federal Environment Minister Peter
Garrett.

PETER GARRETT: It is very clear that when I come to make this decision, I have to consider the
advice. I have to consider the national environment legislation and I have to consider the matters
of national environment significance.

Now on that basis, of course I am aware of the views of the Premier. I am aware of the views of the
Government, the Queensland Government, but they are not material to my decision-making process,
neither should they be.

I act as a regulator. I want to make sure that I make decisions that are faithful to the
legislation I am required to actually prosecute and enforce and I will do that by making sure that
the environment standards are set as high as I believe they need to be on those matters that I have
jurisdiction over.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Greens leader Bob Brown says it will be huge test for Minister Garrett.

BOB BROWN: This is going to be an almighty test of Peter Garrett. There is no way that anybody who
seeks a place for themselves in environmental history could entertain the most damaging project
that is conceivable as far as the fate of some of the most, the lung fish and the turtle and the
cod in that river for example, let alone the thousand plus farms that are going to be inundated at
a time of growing world food crisis.

I don't believe Peter Garrett will support this project. I think it can't be done.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: These are also testing times for Queensland's Premier.

A Courier-Mail/Galaxy poll published today shows 60 per cent of voters are dissatisfied with her
performance - and 84 per cent of people polled are against another controversial plan to sell
public assets.

Here's Anna Bligh.

ANNA BLIGH: Well, no politician enjoys bad polls. I think that is self-evident but in my job I have
to confront the hard decisions that set Queensland up for the future and that is what I have done.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Queensland's Premier Anna Bligh ending that report by Charlotte Glennie in
Brisbane.

*Editor's note: This transcript was amended on 14.09.2009 to correct the figure in relation to the
cost of the Traveston dam.