Protester Judy Plath is vocal during a farmers’ rally when a hearing into the Commission of Inquiry into Paradise Dam had been held. Picture: Mikayla Haupt.
Protester Judy Plath is vocal during a farmers’ rally when a hearing into the Commission of Inquiry into Paradise Dam had been held. Picture: Mikayla Haupt.

‘FRANKLY DISTURBING’: Locals react to dam inquiry report

INDUSTRY and governmental bodies scrambled to figure out the implications of an inquiry's 563-page report into the construction of Paradise Dam yesterday.

The independent Commission of Inquiry had gathered more than 30,000 documents since it was formed in December, and had collaborated evidence from four states, as well as from the United States, Canada, Colombia, Peru, and New Zealand.

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham tabled the report in parliament yesterday and said the findings showed that water supplier Sunwater was justified in its decisions to lower the spillway for safety reasons.

"I repeat again to dispel any further mistruths and myths, the dam will stay," Dr Lynham said.

"I understand that the dam and the water security is fundamental to local farmers and their investment plans."

Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt said the report was "frankly disturbing'.

But he also said the report showed the dam was stable except in extreme weather events.

The State Opposition's first response to the report is that it validates their existing position, which is that more testing is needed on the dam before the spillway is lowered by 5.8 metres.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the report outlined flaws in the construction management and methods. She blamed the former Beattie government, which was in charge at the time the dam was built 15 years ago.

Bundaberg MP David Batt described the State Government's management of the dam as "scandalous".

He said lowering the dam would hurt the regional economy.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers' managing director Bree Grima said the report's position that more testing was needed aligned with views of United States dam expert Paul Rizzo, who served as a consultant for the group.

"We're still working our way through the report which the State Government had the luxury of spending three weeks reading through," Ms Grima said.

"The report doesn't give the government an escape clause from its obligations to restore the dam to full service level."

A Sunwater spokesman confirmed it had the report and that staff were reviewing the findings, as did a representative of the Bundaberg Regional Council.

The council's spokesman said it was consulting with local stakeholders.

Federal MP Keith Pitt said the State Government was responsible for the management and repairs of dams, and it had failed in its handing of Paradise.

"The report is frankly disturbing, given the evidence around the construction and management of Paradise Dam," Mr Pitt said.

"The Queensland State Labor Government is still hiding behind these reports.

"Our community wants a guarantee that Paradise Dam will be restored to 100 per cent capacity and in a suitable time frame, not on the Never Never.

"I have stated numerous times that the dam must be repaired, restored or replaced, as the water security provided by the dam is inexplicably linked to the economic prosperity and jobs in the agriculture industry in this region."