Many vital in fighting water war
OF all the water- related commentary this week one thing caught my eye – it was a picture of a newspaper clipping from a 1993 edition of the Northern Miner shared by Traeger MP Robbie Katter.
“Construction of a permanent weir at Big Rocks could start as early as next April,” the article said.
Twenty five years later and the weir has finally received funding.
It’s a similar story when you look at dams for the Flinders River or long term water security for Townsville.
So what changed that Prime Minister Scott Morrison would swoop in and fund all three ideas in less than a week? Surely Mr Morrison wouldn’t have given $ 200 million to Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipeline if he hadn’t been lobbied by LNP candidate for Herbert Phillip Thompson or Dawson MP George Christensen.
Yet the LNP may not have even considered the project a federal issue if Herbert MP Cathy O’Toole hadn’t set the precedent by getting Labor leader Bill Shorten to commit $ 100 million first.
Stage 2 wouldn’t be on the table if the State Government hadn’t been the first to throw bankable cash at Stage 1.
It’s unlikely they would have done so without pressure from local state members and the Townsville City Council.
None of them would have known the pipeline was the best option without the Townsville Water Security Taskforce. And the taskforce was only able to decide this thanks to the 30odd years of previous studies.
Then there’s the Water For Townsville Action Group, with its 12,000 members and unwavering commitment to the cause.
I could weave you a similar example using Hells Gates, with people like Kennedy MP Bob Katter, Senator Matt Canavan, Senator Ian Macdonald and Townsville Enterprise all playing starring roles.
I’ve only lived in Townsville since January and even I can see the issue of water security in North Queensland is bigger than any one party, government or group. It’s bigger than this paper, it’s bigger than the succession of editors who have helped guide decades of public debate.
In the short term individuals will claim credit ( there are elections to be won) but hopefully history remembers this as a whole community achievement.