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Saffin defends the Clarence and slams Coalition's dam ideas

Page MP Janelle Saffin.
Page MP Janelle Saffin. Jacklyn Wagner

"HOW dare they even mention the words dam or diversion."

That was the reaction of Page MP Janelle Saffin on Thursday to the news the Coalition was considering building dams and a weir on the Clarence and Mann rivers.

Water from the dams and the weir would be piped to the Logan River in Queensland.

A leaked draft Coalition policy discussion paper obtained by News Limited contained proposals to build up to 100 dams across Australia.

The idea to divert water from the Clarence has been kicked around for decades but has always met with fierce opposition.

Ms Saffin said she was "disturbed but not surprised" by the report.

"The federal Liberal and National parties still have their eyes on the Clarence," Ms Saffin told APN Newsdesk.

"They talk a lot about diverting rivers, about damming without any consultation whatsoever with local communities, local councils.

"It's fanciful to think you can talk about damming or diverting the Clarence. You can't."

Ms Saffin predicted the issue of damming or diverting water from the Clarence Valley would become an election issue, just as it was in 2007 when Malcolm Turnbull was water minister.

She referred to The Daily Examiner's successful Not A Drop campaign and said the community sentiment remained six years on.

"It still exists and in fact it would be stronger. With the issues swirling around with CSG and water there's even more of a strong feeling in the community about 'don't touch our water'," she said.

"To even hear a hint the Federal Coalition ... would go near the Clarence is enough to scare people."

Ms Saffin did concede each dam proposal should be treated on its merits, but said it was not an option for the Clarence.

As if sensing the political damage the leaking of the report might do to his chances of wresting Page from Ms Saffin, Nationals candidate Kevin Hogan issued a statement "categorically ruling out" the damming of the Clarence or Mann rivers.

Mr Hogan's immediate reaction was to phone the office of federal Nationals Leader Warren Truss.

"Not only do we have no plans to divert water from Northern NSW, I have been given a guarantee that this will not happen under a Coalition government," Mr Hogan said.

"I can categorically rule out proposals on moving water in northern NSW inland for agriculture in the Murray-Darling or to south east Queensland for urban water needs.

"The Coalition will not build any major dams in northern NSW."

Mr Truss's office confirmed any proposal to dam or divert water from the Clarence or Mann rivers was off the table.

Topics:  clarence coalition dams janelle saffin politics water


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