Mayor Jack Dempsey’s Paradise Dam petition has already been signed by more than 2600 people. Dempsey also welcomed the Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ support for cause. That organisation represents more than 400 fruit, vegetable, herb and nut producers throughout the Wide Bay Burnett area.
“I welcome the backing of BFVG which represents so many of the producers directly impacted by the State Government’s decision to reduce the capacity of Paradise Dam,” Mayor Dempsey said. “These people have put their money, blood, sweat and tears into the soils of our region. We need to stand together in support and send the message that this is not good enough.”
BFVG managing director Bree Grima said it was an uncertain time for growers. “There’s a lot of anxiety and a lot of angst. This is an opportunity for industry and the entire region to stand together on such an important issue. We’re seeking transparency in terms of the decisions that are made which effect an entire region and which effect an entire industry as well.”
She said BFVG understood that the dam’s structural integrity issues needed to be addressed but called on the State Government to reveal its plans to reinstate “full water capacity to the region”. And she hoped it wouldn’t take until 2025 to have water security returned.
Craig Van Rooyen, who has been farming in the region for 21 years, is concerned about the viability of his operations. He owns two farms and has another under contract. On just one of those farms he has 14,000 macadamia, lychee and avocado trees and employs 75 people throughout the year. But without water, he said he had nothing.
“You muck this dam up, okay, and you are buggering up this area,” Craig said. “This water means we all prosper, not just the farmers. We diminish that aspect of Bundy and the region, not only are you scaring investors off, not only are you stopping us putting a lot of money in to horticulture, but it’s jobs. At the end of the day, you reduce the capacity of that dam and you are slashing a heap of jobs.”