Paradise Dam

There's been 59 days of Queensland Labor silence on how and why this liquid gold is being flushed down the Burnett River and out to sea.

In the last sitting week, I spoke about the failure of Labor in Queensland. They've got a pretty poor track record in that not only are they not building dams in Queensland but also one of their existing dams is actually emptying. The Paradise Dam, for those who don't know, is in the Wide Bay–Burnett region. The closest big town is Bundaberg, and it's Queensland's newest dam. It was built about 14 years ago at the cost of a couple of hundred million dollars, and now it's about as useful as a chocolate teapot on Bourbong Street in the middle of summer. The decision has been made to release and waste this water when it could have been utilised by so many in the community, and this is undoubtedly the greatest infrastructure fail—I use 'greatest' in the broader sense of the word. This is possibly the worst infrastructure fail ever in Australia. What's even worse is that Queenslanders are still waiting for answers from the Palaszczuk Labor government.

The secret society that is the Queensland Labor government is hiding behind the bureaucracy and refusing to tell anyone what urgent repairs are needed to resolve this secret safety concern. The Labor minister responsible, Anthony Lynham, has only managed to say that this release of water is due to an unspecified safety issue. There is a real and possibly likely scenario that Paradise Dam will be permanently reduced to 42 per cent of its original capacity, and Premier Palaszczuk has not committed to rebuilding the dam to its full capacity, once again neglecting regional Queensland. With no long-term commitment to water security in the region, the silence is deafening from the Brisbane-based Queensland Labor government.

This blatant neglect in a region that's known for its produce is simply deplorable. The region is known for being the biggest producer of macadamia nuts. Many people in this building come into my office to crack a few nuts. It's also known for its fruit crops, sugarcane and, of course, Bundaberg Rum, which also happens to be in my office occasionally. It's the same region that has been plagued by dry spells and by drought, and just a few weeks ago we were fighting bushfires, like so many other regions across Australia. This precious water being flushed out to sea is so crucial, and you can see why the community's outraged as to why this mass release is happening—it's because of the silence from the state Labor government. No news is coming forward from the state Labor government as to why this water is being wasted. For a government to simply float a suggestion of a safety issue with a dam amongst a community that endured significant flood events just a few years ago is irresponsible at best and ignorant at worst.

They won't say why they're reducing this dam's capacity to 42 per cent—a reduction that's going to undermine the region's agricultural and horticultural industries. They won't specify what safety issues they've identified with the dam that has led to the sudden release of water. They won't say whether they've explored any other options for use of the water that was released into the Burnett River. They won't say if the dam will ever be restored to its previous capacity. They won't say whether any flood modelling has been done in relation to the decision. They won't say anything. But Queenslanders want answers, and especially those Queenslanders who live in the Wide Bay–Burnett region. With the drought continuing, bushfires burning and summer around the corner, there simply cannot be any more secrets from this secretive state Labor government. The community deserves to know what is wrong with this dam. When will it be fixed? What is the dam plan in the meantime? These are basic questions that any government should be willing and able to answer.

In addition to the important questions surrounding community safety, questions must also be answered about any potential impacts this release could have on the local economy. Once again, I join with my federal and state colleagues in calling upon the state Labor government of Queensland to back Deb Frecklington and the LNP in their call for a full public inquiry. At the LNP state council on the weekend, a motion was moved by Keith Pitt, the member for Hinkler, and Colin Boyce, the state member for Callide. I'll read this motion out to you: 'That this state council of the Liberal National Party condemns the Palaszczuk government for failing to inform those residents, farmers and businesses of the risk to property and life from the Paradise Dam. We demand the veil of secrecy is lifted, transparency is provided and funding for repair and restoration to retain 300,000 megalitres of capacity of this dam is immediately provided.' That motion was passed unanimously by the state council of the Liberal National Party. It is time for Premier Palaszczuk to stop hiding behind the bureaucracy and release all of the information on the Paradise Dam and say why this precious water has been released. This is the largest and the worst infrastructure fail in the history of Australia.

If this were in Sydney or Melbourne or on the outskirts of Canberra, it would be on the front pages of the newspapers. But because it's in regional Queensland, because it's been hidden away by the state Labor government, it's been hidden under the carpet. I'm asking Premier Palaszczuk: stop hiding in the office on the top floor of your fancy high-rise there in Brisbane. Go to Bundaberg, go to the Paradise Dam and tell the locals what is wrong with this dam. It is time for Queenslanders to know the truth because, sadly, when it comes to state Labor in Queensland, not only are they not building dams; the one dam that they did build 14 years ago wasn't built properly and now they're letting the water out of it.