Water Week

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Consultations on Chaffrey Dam enlargement have taken six months: time for a decision, says NSW local MP

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

Independent Federal MP Tony Windsor catalogued a list of contacts made with Federal legislators by local politicians to advance the enlargement of the Chaffey Dam, after Environment and Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull professed ignorance of the matter, in the Federal Parliament on 9 August 2007.

Contact detailed: “I asked a question of the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources during question time yesterday about the upgrade of Chaffey Dam, which is the major source of water for Tamworth and the Peel River irrigators in the electorate of New England,” Windsor said. “A series of meetings has been held about the enlargement of the Chaffey Dam and the Mayor of Tamworth has met with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Vaile, and the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Turnbull. The Namoi Catchment Management Authority has also met with Mr Turnbull and the irrigators have met with the Assistant Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Hon. John Cobb. The Deputy Prime Minister has spoken to the Chairman of the Chaffey Dam upgrade reference panel, Deputy Mayor Mr Betts. Despite all this, the minister suggested that he knew nothing about it until I mentioned it in parliament yesterday.”

Documentary evidence: “There are many letters referring to this matter,” Windsor added. “I refer to a letter from the Deputy Prime Minister’s chief of staff dated 21 March 2007 to Mr Betts concerning the potential for the Commonwealth government to invest in the upgrade of the Chaffey Dam. He states: ‘Mr Vaile has passed your letter on to the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources the Hon Malcolm Turnbull. Mr Turnbull has asked me to thank you for your letter and to reply on his behalf.’ The assistant minister for water has received numerous submissions about this issue and a proposal has been before the government since February, when the Deputy Prime Minister came to Tamworth and met with the mayor.”

Time for a decision: “I call upon Mr Betts, Mr Treloar, the mayor of that community, Mr Vaile, Mr Cobb and Mr Turnbull to tell the public what is going on. The continuing delays are impacting on the security of the water supply of the city of Tamworth. Given the ongoing uncertainty about the new Water Bill and the approval processes that have been put in place at the state level, the Tamworth and Peel River communities need a decision. More importantly, the minister should tell the people of Tamworth whether he has an objection to this proposal. He has known about it for six months.”

Reference: Tony Windsor, Member for New England, NSW, Independent, House of Representatives, Federal Parliament, House of Representatives, Thursday 9 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 9/8/2007

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