Monday, 14 March 2011

Regional Australia Committee Inquiry: Bourke favours Clarence River water diversion

From the Hansard transcript of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia’s Inquiry into the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on regional Australia - Bourke hearing on Tuesday, 15 February 2011:

Cr. John Holmes, Bourke Shire Council

There are other ways to rectify this river system than to starve out your little towns, which is going to happen. There has been mention of diverting water from the Clarence. Not only would you get water to shore up some of these rivers; you would also get another 28 meg of power.

Wayne O’Malley, former mayor of Bourke Shire Council

When talking about some sort of solution for the future, we need a fundamentally different approach. We need the conservation of more water to deal with the boom and bust nature of our climate. I put on the table again the diversion of the Clarence needs to be reconsidered, or at least some other major water infrastructure project not only for this part of the state but also for Australia. As a nation we have to be more mindful of our ever-increasing population, and we have to do more planning to provide water for them for the future.

Bourke Council was not alone in putting the case of the water raiders from over the Great Divide. During the hearing held at Gunnedah, the Citizen’s Electoral Council took this line with the Committee - rather strangely asserting that NSW flooding was confined to Grafton in 2010 and more oddly admitting that Bradfield was "not very bright":

Mr Witten

There are things such as the Clarence River scheme, which was mooted some 70 or 80 years ago by some idiot called Bradfield—and of course you know he was not very bright or did not have much ability. Nevertheless, he dreamt up a massive scheme to develop this nation…… The use of the Clarence River scheme, we believe, would inject around a thousand gigalitres into the system, plus provide electricity for our dying power supply.

Mr Stringer

We desperately need some of the eastern fall water up and down the New South Wales coast—and the Clarence is but one of these rivers; you have the rivers heading down towards Macleay. That water could come across to the Namoi, no problem. It is all going to waste. How many floods have we had in Grafton in 2009? How many floods in 2010? They are all in Grafton, and all the water goes to the sea, wasted.

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