Some are glad the issue of the Dungowan Dam Project has finally been settled with the decision of the NSW Government yesterday not to proceed, but Member for New England Barnaby Joyce says the decision shows Labor takes regional Australia for granted.
Joyce says Labor has abandoned water security projects worth $872.5 million and put a razor gang to the $120 billion infrastructure pipeline, putting all regional programs in doubt.
“For the New England, Dungowan Dam is not just in doubt, but has been provided a special line in Budget Paper number 2, stating that the Labor Federal Government will not be proceeding with $595 million for the project over 7 years from 2026, claiming that the business case did not provide sufficient support for construction.”
“Stage 1 of the project has been completed, with the 55km underground pipeline installed running from the Calala Water Treatment Plant at Tamworth to the Dungowan Showgrounds.”
“The Environmental Impact Statement is complete with the NSW State Authority expecting to have assessed all the public submissions of the statement by the end of 2023.”
“This is a major infrastructure project that is already well underway, and Labor have put the tools down half way through the job to go repair a roof on a building in Canberra instead.”
“This is Labor’s thanks to the people of the New England and the City of Tamworth. Dungowan Dam, which we have all fought so hard and for so long is gone.”
“Labor takes us all for granted.”
“We, Regional Australia, put the product on the boat that gave them the surplus and the thanks we get is there in black and white.”
However, others welcomed the clarity that comes with the decision and are ready to move on.
Graham Carter from the Tamworth Water Security Alliance says the federal and NSW Governments have made the right decision to not progress the inefficient and unnecessary Dungowan Dam.
“We have lost 4 important years and wasted too many dollars on a white elephant project that was never going to improve Tamworth’s Water Security in a major drought.”
“Now we must focus on the projects and policy that will help to secure our water supply into the future.”
“The first and easiest step for Water Minister, Rose Jackson, to take is to amend the Peel River water sharing plan to ensure a 2 year town water reserve,” said Alice Milson from Tamworth Water Security Alliance.
“Funding a community education program about the benefits of water recycling is another important immediate step,” she said.
Tamworth Regional Mayor Russell Webb has also welcomed the end of the uncertainty and is ready to focus on other solutions.
“Since the change of Federal Government last year there has been some question about whether the new Dungowan Daw would proceed,” he said.
“And, now with the Budget handed down last night we know it is not funded and we can move forward with the other options we have been exploring to secure our region’s water supply.
‘‘We have been waiting for a clear answer about the funds for a new dam and now we have it.”
Cr Webb said while Council supported a new Dungowan Dam it was never seen as the one and only solution to relieve water security issues faced by Tamworth and Moonbi-Kootingal.
“We always acknowledged further work would be required in the years ahead to secure our water
supply even if the new dam was to proceed,” he said.
“The Environmental Impact Statement for a new Dungowan Dam clearly identified our community
does have a water security issue and we will be looking to the other levels of government to work
with us to find a viable solution,” he said.
“Council needs their help to fund the necessary upgrading of the existing dam, finish the
replacement of the old pipeline and the proposed water purification plant (to produce high purity
water for industrial use) as well as help in identifying other long-term options for water security for our growing community.”
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