Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham will release table the Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry in parliament today. Picture: Mike Knott.
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham will release table the Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry in parliament today. Picture: Mike Knott.

Minister to release dam report to parliament

RESOURCES Minister Anthony Lynham is expected to be tabling the Commission of Inquiry report into Paradise Dam in the state parliament today.

The 563 page report should finally reveal to the public what is wrong with the dam, and will inform the local agricultural industry as to the best course it can take in its fight to stop the lowering of the spillway.

The Commission of Inquiry was held across five months and investigated the construction of the dam completed in late 2005.

Although the NewsMail has yet to read the report, it understands the report determines the primary spillway apron was not built wide enough.

Lack of downstream protection could have contributed to erosion, and if the flood in 2013 had lasted longer, might have risked the failure of the dam, as indicated by Dr Lynham in parliament yesterday.

He said the government had accepted all eight recommendations from the report, which related to construction of future projects.

The independent commission released its findings to Dr Lynham and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk three weeks ago, and since then opposing politicians, and legal and industry representatives have been urging to see them.

Dr Lynham said the government wanted long-term water security through Paradise Dam for generations.

"But it must be safe, that's why we've taken this action and will take any other action that is needed," Dr Lynham said. "There are 48,000 people at risk from this dam.

"There is only one community in Queensland that is uncertain of what could happen to them should a cyclone of the magnitude of that experienced in 2013 or above hit that dam, and that is the community of Bundaberg."

Paradise Dam is 20 kilometres northwest of Biggenden on the Burnett River, and falls in the state electorate of Callide, and its MP Colin Boyce asked in parliament yesterday as to who had made the decision to lower the spillway.

 

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett, Member for Callide Colin Boyce, Queensland Senator Paul Scarr and Member for Bundaberg David Batt discuss their concerns about the lowering of Paradise Dam at Buss Park, in March. Picture: Brittiny Edwards.
Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett, Member for Callide Colin Boyce, Queensland Senator Paul Scarr and Member for Bundaberg David Batt discuss their concerns about the lowering of Paradise Dam at Buss Park, in March. Picture: Brittiny Edwards.

 

"We are of the opinion that an alarmist atmosphere has evolved over the safety of Paradise Dam without adequate basis," Mr Boyce said, although he has yet to read the report.

"The distress should be addressed with suitable corrective engineering actions, but such motions should be measured not extreme or dramatically disruptive."

Mr Boyce said the lowering of the spillway was environmentally motivated and a way to further weaken the sugarcane industry.

He referred to letters between Dr Lynham, and Bundaberg agribusiness lawyer Tom Marland, in which Dr Lynham said the decision to lower the dam was made by dam owner Sunwater, and not by himself.

"It is highly likely that the report contradicts the evidence provided by Sunwater and relied upon by the Department to assess the dam's safety," Mr Marland wrote last Thursday.

"It is also highly likely that the report will contradict the basis for the essential works program."

Bundaberg Regional Council discussed Paradise Dam in the confidential section of its briefing meeting yesterday.

A Bundaberg Regional Council spokesman was apologetic but said he could not comment about confidential items.

However, Division 3 councillor Wayne Honor declared a potential conflict of interest regarding the Paradise Dam issue, because the subject related to Mr Marland, who was his lawyer, and also as a farmer had a water allocation with Sunwater.

Deputy mayor Bill Trevor said he had a perceived conflict because he recently held a lease on a property that had access to water allocations with Sunwater.



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