This letter was written in response to The Hon Bob Katter MP's comments in this article, published in the Townsville Bulletin. We immediately responded with this open letter, from which some statements were published about a week later. You can read the printed article here.
Contrary to your recent claims that North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) represents the people of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, and that we’ve “never set foot off a pavement”, we have more in common than you think.
For starters, we both represent the interests of North Queenslanders. You represent your constituents, and we represent North Queensland’s natural environment on behalf of our members and supporters. NQCC operates autonomously and independently in North Queensland. Like you, we have our region’s best interests at heart and are not influenced by metropolitan southerners.
Our mission is to promote and protect the natural environment in North Queensland, and this includes advocating for a sustainable approach to all development.
There are multiple dams proposed for the Burdekin River. If they were all approved before the Burdekin Basin Water Plan is reviewed, it could result in the vast allocation of available water, leading the Burdekin to become Queensland’s Murray-Darling. That would be devastating to the species and communities who depend on the Burdekin River to be healthy.
To avoid this, we are asking for a basin-wide management approach, to ensure all proposals stack up when it comes to long-term economic and social benefits and environmental impacts. This isn’t radical - it’s just common sense.
Big Rocks Weir is an example of a project with community benefits that could potentially outweigh its environmental impact, if all environmental commitments are met. In contrast, the last feasibility study into Hells Gates Dam showed something quite different.
Bob, we are not your opponents. We oppose environmental harm and advocate for the protection of North Queensland’s natural environment. This is the same natural environment that your constituents depend on for work and recreation.
All we ask is that proposals for water infrastructure throughout the Burdekin Basin are put on hold until the Burdekin Basin Water Plan is reviewed – a process that is due to start very soon. This will provide our vital water resources the best chance of being managed sustainably.
We are happy to meet with you to discuss how we can work together for a flourishing future for the beautiful region we both care for so deeply.
North Queensland Conservation Council
Tuesday 7 September 2021