burnett-attachment-b. pdf




  1. The above pdf’s are the federal goverments audit findings for the fishway on paradise dam, the audit clearly indicates that the fishway can only operate for upstream passage and not downstream , due to the downstream entry point being constructed at 63 m EL which is too high for average storage levels , because the Burnett catchment does not yeild enough rainfall to fill the dam on a regular basis.

    This has resulted in the QLD goverment breaching its conditions of approval from the federal goverment , and we are asking Peter Garrett to make them change it or have them charged with committing an offence under the EPBC Act 1999 , for causing environmental harm to a protected matter ( Lungfish)


    Minister, the senate would like to know if the Queensland government is capable of complying with the approval for the Paradise Dam fishway given by the Howard government in 2005.

    Well, my officers did find that the Queensland government has partially complied, you see its question of elements, my officers found that there are 2 elements to the fish way, one being the ability for the lingfish to travel upstream for a holiday at gayndah with its relatives, the other being its ability to catch the paradise tilt train back down stream, to the Ned Churchyard water theme park for damaged lingfish .

    Yes Minister, we see the point, but the house would like to know if the said lingfish has been able to sojourn to gayndah and back to the water theme park? Under its own steam, so to speak?

    Well, my officers were told that certain lingfish have been able to visit their relatives upstream, when they can get a lift in a passing Ute, so we feel that could be intepreted as a partial ‘elemental’ compliance.

    Yes, Minister, but the house would like to know if the Queensland government is capable of elementally complying with the approval by ensuring that the said lingfish can in fact, travel unimpeded under water, without a hilux Ute, to the Claude Wharton weir to embrace its relatives?

    Sir Humphrey , could you please explain it to the house?,

    Yes Minister , you see its a question of definition , Minister, we define the phrase , ” suitable for lingfish ” , as being capable of ensuring that the suitability of the fish way is indeed capable of being suitably constructed and suitably operated to ensure that the lingfish are suitably impressed, and that any upstream or downstream vacations which may be contemplated by the lingfish , are of a suitable duration and the return journey is suitably comfortable for the lingfish.

    Whereas the Queensland government on the other hand defines the phrase , ‘suitable for lungfish’ as , lets get an American whose an expert at American species fish ways to design a ‘suitable one’ and ‘lets build the downstream entry so high that the water will never get to it , and it will never be suitable for lingfish and we can blame climate change’ , because Premier Beattie said so , and he said it will be effective , because he should know , after all it was he who promised the dam to the ignorant plebeians of the Burnett catchments .

    So you see Minister, its all in the defining of the phrasing, the dam is very suitable to the Queensland government, the audit FINDING is very suitable to the Queensland government, you, minister are very suitable to the Queensland government, the bilateral agreement is very suitable to the Queensland government and the demise of the lingfish is very suitable to the Queensland government.

    So in closing Sir Humphrey , would it suffice to say , that in general we have a very suitable outcome all round ?


  3. MEDIA





    The Beattie government was given approval under the EPBC Act 1999, to build the Paradise Dam (on the Burnett River, upstream of Bundaberg) by the Howard government under Minster Kemp on the 25th of Jan 2002. On the 8th of august 2003, the Minister gave the Beattie government a variation of the approval which required them to comply with 9 conditions to demonstrate successful mitigation to ensure that a ‘significant impact’ did not occur to the MNES Neoceratodus forsterii commonly known as the Australian lungfish.

    Condition 3 of the variation of approval was that, “Burnett Water must install a fish transfer device on the Burnett River Dam suitable for lungfish. The fishway will commence when the dam becomes operational” .

    This variation was the result of scientific assessment of the potential impacts to the species and the requirement for upstream and downstream migration to spawning and feeding habitats.

    A Queensland DPIF report by Brooks and Kind (2002) on the lungfish had made a recommendation that a decadal study of the Mary River lungfish populations was produced before any further dams or extraction was planned or indeed carried out.

    On the 26th April 2006 the then Premier ,Peter Beattie, announced without any public consultation process , that his government was going to build a 300,000 MGL dam on the Mary River at Traveston , 15km south of Gympie , I was fortunate enough to be one of the 6000 people who attended that announcement and unanimously turned their backs on the Premier. On the 14th of June 2006, my contract with the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency was terminated because I was accused of breaching the public service code of conduct, as I had made comments in the media that the Beattie cabinet was ignoring the recommendation from the scientific report by Brooks and Kind.

    After a concerted media and lobbying effort by the Anti Traveston Dam group , Widebay Burnett Conservation Council ( WBBCC) , Save the Mary River group ( STMRG) , and the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee ( MRCCC), the Premier dug his heels in and responded to an accusation by Professor Jean Joss , on the Qld ABC 7.30 Report , that the ‘fishway was ineffective and not complying with the EPBC approval’, with the following;
    “The paradise dam lungfish ladder is working effectively and they are breeding effectively as far as I’m concerned”.

    WBBCC lodged a FOI request to the Premiers Office seeking documentation (scientific research papers or Cabinet briefing documents ) to substantiate the Premiers claims ,

    “WBBCC is seeking access to all documents relating to the advice given to the premier on the functioning of the fish ladder on Paradise Dam on the Burnett River and lungfish breeding in the Burnett River”, we obtained the following response, “ a search was conducted of the records management system and physical searches were undertaken of pertinent areas of the office” , however no documents were found,”, ““Certain documents were located which were initially considered to fall within the scope of your application, however processing your request involved consultation with third parties under S51 of the FOI act 1992, following consultation and examination , the documents were considered irrelevant to your request, as the Department does not hold any documents that fall within the scope of your application, access is refused under S 28a ( 1) “ An agency or Minister may refuse access to a document if the agency or the Minister is satisfied the document does not exist”.

    After a meeting with Senator Ron Boswell at the mouth of the Mary River and communications with Senator Ian Macdonald, I was requested to attend the Senate Regional and Rural Affairs Committee hearing into the Traveston Dam proposal on the 11th June 2007, to give evidence of the effectiveness of the fishway. I used the FOI request and response, to show that the Premier had based his statement on personal opinion with no credible evidence or scientific results (the premier was misleading the people of Queensland). Those of us from the Anti Dam groups who participated were successful in persuading Minister Turnbull (Howard Government Environment Minister) to agree to carry out an environmental audit of the Beattie (now Bligh) government’s compliance performance for the fish way on Paradise Dam.

    The audit was carried out by officers of Minister Garrets department late last year, myself and certain other members of the Anti Dam groups had a meeting with Minister Garrett in Gympie on Monday 25 th Feb 2008, where I explained to him that the compliance can not be met because the downstream entry point for the fishway is situated at 63 M EL which is 6 mts above the current storage level of the dam, and this precludes downstream passage. The reason it is at this height is to ensure that successful fish passage does not compromise the economic performance of the dam , thereby rendering the ‘fish transfer device’ unsuitable for lungfish. This is in direct breach of condition 3 of the variation.

    The Ministers officers make the following observations and determinations in respect of the ‘device’;

    P02: “The Fishway has not fully commenced “(Attachment B Item 3.3).

    BWPL’s Response:

    “It is BWPL’s view that this condition has been met and BWPL is compliant. Continuing drought conditions has meant that the Paradise Dam storage level has not reached the design operating range for the downstream fishway of EL62.0m. The fishway design process included extensive consultation with fish experts and government agencies and advice from fishway experts over an extended period of time. The operating range was considered to offer the best cost-benefit-risk outcome for all stakeholders that balanced protecting the lungfish with cost-effectiveness of the design. The resource Operations Plan (ROP) established by the State Government specifies that the fishway is to have an operational range of between EL 62.0m and EL 67.9m. The highest the water level in the dam has reached since its construction was EL 55.62m.”

    Department’s Response:

    “The fishway was to commence when the dam became operational. It is DEWHA’s view that the dam became operational in December 2005.

    Only part of the fishway is currently operating (upstream).

    A rating of partial compliance is given when there is more than one element to the condition or requirement being assessed and the auditee has complied with some but not all elements. In this instance the fishway contains both upstream and downstream elements, and both of these have not been met, therefore a rating of partial compliance is appropriate. It is however noted, that the rating of partial compliance is due to drought conditions and low dam levels”.

    If we refer back to the variation for approval, there is no mention of ‘partially complying’, the wording is distinct, “Burnett Water must install a fish transfer device on the Burnett River Dam suitable for lungfish.” The Anti Dam groups are adamant that compliance has not been met , fish passage must occur in both directions , there can be no mistake , compliance with the conditions of approval have not been met by the Bligh governments water operations entity Sunwater . The spurious claim that ‘continuing drought conditions’ are to blame is a fallacy and easily debunked.

    The dam is currently at EL 57M and falling and Sunwater is selling water on a daily, ( 216MGL ) basis, rainfall at the BOM gauge near Gayndah for 2007-08 was above the 137 year median , rainfall in the SEQ region was particularly heavy post xmas and yet the dam has still not reached the 63 m EL . This actually an admission on the part of Sunwater , that the dam was a Beattie government election promise and built in an unsustainable catchment. It is unlikely that further large inflows will occur now; this will result in another year of non compliance with the conditions of approval.

    It is then not unreasonable for the Anti Dam groups to put forward an argument that it is unlikely that compliance can be met in the foreseeable future unless the Federal Environment Minister applies to the Federal Court to , ‘make a remediation determination requiring a person ( BWPL or Sunwater ) to repair or mitigate damage that has been or is likely to be caused to a protected matter ( non effective fish passage for Neoceratodous forsterii) by a breach of a civil penalty provision’, under S 18 (4) , (a) & and (b) of the EPBC Act .




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