DAM COUNTER: Senator Andrew Bartlett (second from left) with Rick Humphries, Rob Simcocks, Chris Gray and Liz Bourne at the proposed Emu Swamp Dam site.
DAM COUNTER: Senator Andrew Bartlett (second from left) with Rick Humphries, Rob Simcocks, Chris Gray and Liz Bourne at the proposed Emu Swamp Dam site. Contributed

Dud dam shows no imagination claims Senator

A GREENS senator has taken aim at proponents of the Emu Swamp Dam proposal, labelling the project a "stitch up”.

In town on Monday to meet with concerned residents and Southern Downs Regional Council, Greens Senator for Queensland Andrew Bartlett said the concept lacked imagination.

"The purpose of today was to hear from people locally and to get a bit more of an idea directly from some of the people and the concerns they have,” Senator Bartlett said.

"The concerns that a lot of people have as to this particular proposed dam is that it's not economically viable and it'd be a really bad use of public funds.

"I think particularly even the latest action of taking the latest study away from council and towards somebody else really looks like a stitch up.

"Even the money for that (study), every community could think of better ways that could be spent let alone the amount of money it'd cost to build a dam.

"The Greens are very keen on public money being invested in regional areas for socially useful infrastructure. I don't think this is it.

"Particularly for a region like this that's already got so many dams and weirs

and water storage it just shows a lack of imagination, leaving aside any allegations of special treatment for mates.

"If that's the best you can think of for how to invest over $100 million in a region then that's not much imagination.”

Senator Bartlett justified his strong stance, saying other groups should follow council's lead and back away from Emu Swamp Dam.

"The fact that the council, as I understand it, has backed away from pushing this as an option for their water needs shows there are other alternatives that are probably cheaper and more secure,” he said.

"If you're talking just about water security, let's say there's already plenty of water storages in the area.

"People have talked about a pipeline for example from existing dams, actions to reduce evaporation from existing water storages. There's separation of water security for the town, as opposed to irrigators and further use. They are two separate issues.

"There are unfortunately plenty of examples around Queensland of unviable dud dams that were really just pork barrelling for mates.

"It's why people have such cynicism in politics. Because the system can be so rigged.

"I think the core thing is they (people opposed to Emu Swamp Dam) feel like it's just a stitch up.

"The proposal has been around for ages and reports come down saying it's not viable so people go away and come back just to try and push it through again.

"(They) pull strings until they can rig the system in a way that delivers something that will perhaps be beneficial for a few people if the government covers all the cost, but not really helpful for the broader community.”

Water Granite Belt spokesman Rick Humphries said it was important for Senator Bartlett to visit the area.

"We're a group of concerned locals, some impacted directly, but most of us are just worried about the economics and the apparent waste of public money on yet another futile study,” he said.

"We just think there's some questions that need to be raised about the process.”