Barnaby Joyce
Barnaby Joyce

Joyce claims Coalition won't 'put a dam on the Clarence'

NATIONALS Senator Barnaby Joyce says the Coalition has no intention of building dams in areas where there is fierce opposition.

A leaked Coalition draft discussion paper containing proposals for up to 100 dams across the country reignited debate this week about the contentious issue.

But Senator Joyce told APN Newsdesk a Coalition government would not dam the Clarence River because it was "not worth the political fight".

"We're not going to put a dam on the Clarence. The message that we get back loud and clear from that area is that they don't want it," Senator Joyce said.

"We quite obviously are vastly more inclined to go to areas where they want it."

Senator Joyce said people in some parts of Australia, like the Gulf, were "climbing over each other" to get dams built.

He was deputy chair of the Coalition taskforce that spent the past two years visiting potential dam sites.

The commitment not to dam the Clarence came after Nationals Leader Warren Truss and the party's Page candidate Kevin Hogan gave the same assurance on Thursday.

They were forced to do so after News Ltd revealed dam proposals for the Clarence and Mann rivers were contained in the discussion paper.

A proposal to build a dam in the Tweed shire at Byrrill Creek was also contained in the discussion paper, but Senator Joyce said, like the Clarence, it would only happen with overwhelming community support.

A significant amount of work was done on the Byrrill Creek dam plan, but it was rejected by Tweed Shire Council in 2011.

"Now, more and more, we're getting people from that area saying we want to expand our water facilities," he said.

"I say to them quite clearly, 'Sure, you mount the argument in your district and get back to us because we're not going to be fighting your fight for you'."

Senator Joyce said he would "happily engage" with any Northern Rivers council that could prove there was a strong community consensus to build a dam.

"But I'm not going to come charging in over from Tenterfield being seen as the sage of all hydrological wisdom," he said.

The Queenslander, a passionate dam advocate, said an increasing number of Australians were ready to "take the next step" in constructing dams to secure water supplies, protect against floods fuel power stations.

He said in time more people would see it made sense to build dams, in the right areas.

"Someone has convinced us that it's morally repugnant to build a dam. We've somehow swallowed that yarn," he said.

"We've got to step back and go 'no, that's ridiculous'."


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