Friday, 8 June 2007

And then there was this water grab

Date: Thursday, 17 May 2007 12:10 AM
The General Manager
Bourke Shire Council
16 May 2007
Dear Sir,
Re: Clarence catchment water diversion proposal and Bourke Shire Council motion to be considered by the Local Government Shires Association [LGSA] conference in June 2007.
Bourke Shire Council has lodged a motion, to be debated at the forthcoming LGSA conference, calling for the Howard Government to further pursue the Clarence catchment water diversion proposal with the aim of diverting water to north-west New South Wales.
The motion includes reference to a Clarence water diversion scheme designed by Geoff White.
In the minutes of its ordinary monthly meeting held on 23 October 2006, Bourke Shire Council indicated that it was actively investigating funding of a Clarence water diversion scheme.
In the same minutes, Bourke Shire Council resolved to send a delegation to Malcolm Turnbull, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with responsibility for water policy, and also to Geoff White of White Industries, a construction and mining group.
In a published interview on 19 February 2007, Geoff White stated that he had made a submission in favour of Clarence water diversion and that John Howard was aware of his submission [The Sydney Morning Herald,"The White Stuff",19.02.07].
I note that both Bourke Shire Council and Mr. White appear to have made formal approaches to the Howard Government ahead of its 12 April 2007 announcement of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation [SMEC] desktop study of proposed NSW Northern Rivers water diversion to south-east Queensland.
I know of no attempts by Bourke Shire Council to consult with local government or communities in the lower Clarence catchment area. This apparent omission speaks to a pronounced lack good faith on the part of Council.
There is a strong suggestion that Bourke Shire Council and certain other councils in "J" Division are now seeking to make Clarence water diversion an issue in this year's federal election, to the detriment of the populations and industries within Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas which depend on the continued health and productivity of the Clarence River and its tributaries.
The NSW Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water has made public statements which strongly oppose any Clarence River water diversion option as set out in the SMEC desktop study, on the basis of potential significant negative environmental, economic and social impacts.
These same negative impacts would apply to any new proposal for water diversion, from the Clarence River or its tributaries, to either north-west New South Wales or the Border Rivers.
Similarly, Clarence Valley Council, Clarence River Professional Fishermen's Association, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition, Federal Nationals MP for Cowper, NSW Nationals MP for Clarence, Federal Nationals candidate for Page and many local residents have publicly expressed their firm opposition to any Clarence water diversion proposal.
I draw Council's attention to this demonstrated opposition to Clarence catchment water diversion and, ask that it reconsider this reckless push to solve its own water supply problems at the expense of others.
I ask that this letter, as a matter of urgency, be included as an attachment to the next Bourke Shire Council business paper.
In anticipation and appreciation of your assistance with this matter.
Yours faithfully,

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