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Ex-Judge To Head Dam Inquiry

Filed under Breaking News, Latest News, Rural

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham

November 29, 2019

An independent inquiry will be held into Paradise Dam following the release on Friday of technical reports which describe structural problems with the dam.

Retired Supreme Court judge John Byrne will head the inquiry but the terms of reference have not yet been released.

The move follows repeated calls by Opposition MPs for an inquiry into the controversial dam and the launch of an E-petition by Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey which had attracted 2940 signatures by Friday.

“The government has been listening to the Bundaberg community,” Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said.

“We know they have questions, as we have questions.

“Justice Byrne’s inquiry will take public submissions and the terms of reference will be released next week.”

In the meantime, Sunwater will continue works to deal with issues detailed in the technical reports.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said Labor had been “dragged kicking and screaming” to hold the inquiry.

“The people of Wide Bay have been in the dark for months over the safety of the dam and why it had to be drained to a staggering 42 per cent in the middle of a drought,” Mrs Frecklington said.

“Labor’s handling of this issue has been a debacle and it’s destroyed all trust in the Palaszczuk Labor Government in Wide Bay.”

Dr Lynham said the technical reports confirmed stability issues with the dam in the event of an extreme weather event such as the 2013 cyclone and flood.

The technical reports published on Sunwater’s website today show:

  • Issues with the bonds between each layer of roller compacted concrete in the dam wall
  • Risks to the dam wall in major events like the 2013 cyclone and flood
  • The need to act to lower water levels to minimise pressure on the dam wall.

Dr Lynham said work continued on reducing the dam spillway by five metres and alternative water supply options, especially for irrigators.

The dam’s storage level has been progressively lowered over the past 10 weeks and it will reach its 42 per cent target level in the next few days.

  • The technical reports are available to download online

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