The dam vote: Class action a ‘weapon’ for Paradise
DECISIONS surrounding the future of Paradise Dam could become a voting linchpin for some as farmers lobbying for the dam to be fixed turn their attention to the state election.
At a recent community meeting about ongoing class action proceedings Marland Law solicitor Tom Marland said the dam's fate would be a potential election issue.
He said while the legal points were important, they also needed to put political pressure on the government.
"We feel the best way to save this dam is the LNP to win on the 31st of October, or a commitment, a solid commitment to restore that dam," he said.
A Judicial Review is expected to be heard in court later this month and a class action was lodged on July 28 over an alleged breach of duty of care and deceptive and misleading conduct in the management of Paradise Dam.
A SunWater spokesperson has previously told the NewsMail, the company's decisions in relation to Paradise Dam were about protecting both lives and livelihoods.
"The decision to lower the dam wall has been made to improve the safety of communities living downstream of the dam, while longer term remediation of the dam is designed and implemented," the spokesperson previously said.
"If required, Sunwater will vigorously defend its position on Paradise Dam in court."
At the community meeting last week Mr Marland said early estimates of losses were in the billions - in the worst case scenario potentially more than $10 billion.
"The sad thing about it is the claim will actually be larger than what it costs to fix the dam," he said.
Mr Marland said they were hoping "common sense" would prevail and the government would decide to fix the dam.
"If the government don't do it by will, we will force them to do it," Mr Marland said.
The Judicial Review is expected to cost more than $200,000 and while they have received some funds, Mr Marland said they need more.
Should the judicial review fail, the class action will be undertaken moving forward.
"The issue with the class action funding, even if we started today, we're probably not looking at funding until June next year… the reality for that is that we don't have until June next year."
Mr Marland they had until October 31 to make Paradise Dam an election issue.
Joining him on this case's legal team is Douglas Campbell QC, Matthew Donova, and Justin Byrne.
Mr Campbell QC said a judicial review was not an answer to the problem, rather it was a review of the decision which could be remade.
While the class action may not necessarily be the desired end result, Mr Campbell said it was a "weapon", a "tool".
"If they repair the dam, it (the class action) goes away," he said.
"So it's nice to have that as a counter measure, as a weapon that you can use to say 'if you don't repair the dam, this is the consequence'.
"And it's a fair thing to do, it's what the law is designed to do, it's designed to protect you; but a class action needs the help and assistance of the community."