MPs warned: Parliament debates Paradise Dam debacle
QUEENSLAND parliamentarians debated the need for an inquiry into Paradise Dam earlier this evening, after opposition leader Deb Frecklington moved a motion in order to do so.
But it was a debate that needed to appeal to the State Government, considering it had more voting influence than LNP and crossbenchers combined.
But Labor speakers opposed the motion., and the debate got heated enough for Burnett and Bundaberg MPs to be warned against heckling the agricultural minister.
Labor accuses the LNP of a political agenda, while the LNP accuses Labor of a lack of transparency.
The intention of Ms Frecklington's proposed inquiry is for a parliamentary committee to examine the design, construction and operation of the dam, which was built 13 years ago.
This would include examining how the 2005 receivership of the first dam builder, Walter Construction Group, affected the project.
It would check to see if a claim could be made against those who built the dam, or through Sunwater's insurance.
Meanwhile, 320 kilometres from the debate over an inquiry, water flowing from Paradise Dam had almost filled Gregory Weir.
100ML of water was being released daily to lower the dam to 42 per cent, in order for construction to begin on lowering the spillway.
The dam was at 62 per cent yesterday.
Sunwater has released water into the Gregory River over the last 10 days in order to fill Gregory Weir, which serviced the Childers and Woodgate community.
Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the weir had been critically low.
"This is another example of how Sunwater and the government are making every effort to ensure that the water that has to be released for safety is being used as productively as possible," he said.
"Irrigators with water access rights already on these watercourses have access to free water from the dam.
"A number of these irrigators have used water from those locations to fill their own dams and offstream storages."
In the parliamentary debate, Ms Frecklington said that the Bundaberg and Burnett community need a proper explanation.
"They want to know what on earth is going on at Paradise Dam.
"But the Palaszczuk Labor Government has refused to tell them.
"Labor won't say what is wrong with the dam that it built."
Tourism Minister Kate Jones spoke second in the debate, saying "we make no apology of acting in the interest of public safety."
She said there was already a review which would look at emergency management of the dam.
"In actual fact of going down this path, we would see a delay, and would go down a backward path."
Ms Jones was warned against unparliamentary conduct when using the line "dam well nothing", criticising the LNP of not building the dams they advocated during the Newman government.
"It's not the easy decision, but it's the right decision, it's based on fact, it's based on expert advice."
Bundaberg MP David Batt said that a parliamentary inquiry would allow people to share their knowledge without fear.
"The stories I have heard about the Paradise dam build are worrying to say the least," Mr Batt said.
"And I know I speak on behalf of the Bundaberg region when I say it's time we got to the bottom of this mess and find out the truth once and for all."
Agricultural minister Mark Furner echoed Ms Jones when saying there was already a review of emergency management.
"We should listen to the experts and see what the advice is."
That's when Mr Batt and Mr Bennett were reprimanded by the speaker for interrupting.
Mr Bennett said that the government was "robbing the wealth of my community" by releasing the water.
"There is still no details of the safety issues, they have not been provided.
"Nobody has given us anything. The spin on this has made us dizzy."
Dr Lynham said that the Bundaberg mayor and Engineers Australia said "dam operators were doing the right thing by prioritising safety."