Mayor Jack Dempsey has welcomed Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ support for his Paradise Dam petition which has already been signed by more than 2600 people.
The 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,” Bree said.
“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.
“We understand that these processes do take a long time but there are certainly options that they can be looking at to try and make the most of the water we’ve got now.”
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, ok, 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.”
With an agricultural degree and years of experience Craig said he would hate to leave the area, but it could come to that.
“I think that this is one of the best areas in the world and this dam is critical for this to remain that way and to grow.
“You take the water away and we walk away, in fact, we leave the area.
“That’s how important it is.
“My wife is a doctor in the region, we’ve got a medical practice here, we employ a whole lot of people there.
“But you start to reduce how profitable these farms are and take the water away from us, these people leave town.
“We won’t employ 75 people to pick the fruit because the fruit won’t be there.”
- Sign the online petition: http://ax.lv/pdam.
- Other news: Growers urge open minds in Paradise Dam debate