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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1527


Senator GARETH EVANS —Yesterday Senator Reynolds asked me a question about the Mackenzie River Dam in Queensland to which I now am able to respond in the following terms. As I am aware of them the facts are that as part of its 1984-85 Budget the Queensland Government announced an additional $100m for water resources including $4m to construct a dam on the Mackenzie River. I understand that the design of the project has been completed and tenders will be called in the near future. The proposed dam is about 35 kilometres upstream from a 30,000 hectare property owned by Ciasom Pty Ltd, a company which is owned by the Bjelke-Petersen family. I understand that there are 20 paid-up $1 shares in that company-15 shares of which are held by Florence Bjelke-Petersen, two by her son John and one by each of her other three children. The Mackenzie River Dam has never been submitted to the Commonwealth for funding either through the national water resources program or its successor, the federal water resources assistance program. It is very difficult to understand the Queensland Government's priorities for the construction of dams and weirs. The sudden arrival of projects at the top of that Government's spending lists, as has recently been reported, can only lead to speculation that factors other than rational economic or public interest considerations are playing some part.