Letters to the editor

This week's letters largely centre around Emu Swamp Dam.

Emu Swamp Dam

I am surprised that in a previous edition of Warwick Today Mr Pennisi claimed that Emu Swamp Dam “was not a 150 year solution but it is a 50 year solution!” I am surprised because he was present when officers of the Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy [DNR] provided the results of their research and modelling regarding the offer made by GBIP. In that presentation council was advised that Emu Swamp Dam would have failed in the last drought just like Storm King Dam. The presentation also indicated that Emu Swamp Dam would have failed in the millennial drought as well [which finished eight years before our last drought]. Mr Pennisi was also advised that the DNR modelling presumed GBIP would be able to successfully acquire another 2300 mega [million] litres from other water allocation holders. [Something apparently not managed yet which will cost GBIP and its customers millions of dollars.]

Also the DNR modelling did not consider climate change forecasts. However the Badu report commissioned by GBIP did and in one scenario concluded that Emu Swamp Dam would be only 65 per cent viable by 2070. [50 years time] If this turns out to be the case what year will Emu Swamp Dam really become a bad investment for SDRC? Fifty years may turn out to be an exaggeration? DNR’s presentation also advised council that SDRC should not transfer/sell more than 200 mega litres from Storm King Dam’s allocation as it would compromise the viability of Storm King Dam. Concernedly GBIP’s BADU advisory report indicates that for Emu Swamp Dam to be viable GBIP should acquire 400 mega litres from Storm King Dam’s allocation! How is this going to be resolved I wonder?

Mr Pennisi needs to justify his statements and further, should place all the documents I have previously mentioned on the councils website so ratepayers can make up their own minds about who is being factual in this matter and how council has arrived at their decision to become a dam customer. p.s. [I understand that POW’s website has published most if not all of the prior mentioned consultants reports.]

– John Morison, Stanthorpe.

Ratepayers deserve answers

The fact sheet promised by Council in June still hasn’t materialised. GBIP encourages people to go to its website for answers, and in the absence of answers from Council this is the place to start. On GBIP’s website under “Community” go to “Irrigators” for the Water Sales Documents. Click on “Information Memorandum” and go to the Key Risks (Section 7, page 27). It says “(Cost Escalation): There is a risk that the Scheme could experience cost overruns prior to, or during, construction of the Water Infrastructure. This may impact on the ability to deliver the Scheme, or an increase in Charges going forward relative to initial expectations.” So there may be cost overruns, and these would be added to the annual charges payable by Council and irrigators in Emu Swamp Dam.

In fact the two pages of Key Risks are very interesting. No need to rely on statements being made by POW!, or anyone else. You can read it all in GBIP’s own documents.

– Melissa Hamilton, Granite Belt

Dam letter response

Off target and just off really, thank you for your interest in my real estate portfolio, news is Holmes my postcode is 4380.

The Severn River has its source in NSW and returns there hence, the oft forgotten border river management plan. It is in fact part of a bigger system far beyond your swamp, but the repercussions of ESD will further endanger the already fragile Murray Darling system.

Individuals, myself, ratepayers and groups are asking simple questions that you and even the current council want to keep secret, WHY? … is this another flood plain harvesting scam?

Looking forward to meeting you at the public meeting and its OK you can wear your balaclava or hoodie .

– Grant (not anon) Thornton, Stanthorpe


To the Editor

I, John MoRRison, a long term resident of Stanthorpe, have no association or similar views to the John MoRison who is a regular letter writer regarding the Emu Swamp Dam.

– John Morrison, Stanthorpe

Red Cross talks mental health

As people continue to suffer the mental health effects of the pandemic Red Cross is reminding readers there are things they can do now to regain a sense of control, and prepare for the inevitable disasters ahead.

New research by Australian Red Cross has found that two in five Australians’ mental health has been hit by Covid, and a similar number say they feel less hopeful about the future. Some 37 per cent feel less secure and safe.

This week is our annual campaign to encourage people to prepare ahead for disasters, as the better prepared people are, the better their experience when a disaster inevitably hits. Better preparation also leads to a better recovery.

There are excellent resources on the Red Cross website www.redcross.org.au/prepare including steps to create your own emergency plan, to download the Red Cross Get Prepared App, a survival kit, emergency contacts list, keepsake list, information to help manage stress and more.

With disaster season almost upon us, we strongly encourage people to start thinking now about how they will manage. Your mental health will be better for it.

– Garry Page, Director Australian Red Cross Qld


The Jacobs report was written in 2017 and has been hailed as independent. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was a report prepared and paid for by GBIP. The presenter stood up and as part of his presentation stated that the initial price was $120m. So they went back and “found” savings enough to bring the price in at $84m. The report itself is full of qualifications and risks, which all suggests that costs are understated and benefit way overstated. The report itself is now 6 years old and of course circumstance have changed quite dramatically since then. In 2019 James Lister MP stated that emu swamp dam was spade ready. In 2020 we were assured that earthworks would commence. This has moved to 2021 then to 2022/2023. A Toowoomba company was engaged to do a detailed design and costing in 2020 but that has never surfaced. A construct tender has been let for the supply network original route and again nothing on that. Tenders have been let for the design and construct of the dam, again nothing. All correspondence and contact with effected landholders ceased late 2020. We were advised that we the public would be fully informed yet the last newsletter telling us nothing was June and it was 6 weeks late. Talk about mushroom syndrome, we have been kept in the dark and fed liberal amounts of bullshit from day one. No I am not part of POW, just a concerned citizen and have stated all along that this dam will have a substantial negative impact on our community and so far $10m plus has been spent on nothing.

-Geoffrey Pittard, Stanthorpe

Thanks and congratulations

Can I publicly thank the four First Nations groups that signed a cultural heritage agreement last week regarding Emu Swamp Dam? The agreement is an assurance that the land will be respected and all activities on it will consider the indigenous custodians and their culture.

I’m speaking not as a Councillor but as a proud community member when I recall the way our First Nations have walked this journey with us. I can recall elder Robert Brown of Warwick attending the initial dam planning meetings in Stanthorpe nearly 20 years ago and saying that he knew the dam would lead to new jobs for all Australians, which was a good thing. Just three years ago, as a Chamber of Commerce member I hosted all groups to a breakfast where Robert’s nephew and son confirmed that they saw the dam as beneficial to all future generations. So I was very proud to see Leroy Brown on the Channel 7 news last week echoing these sentiments at the signing ceremony.

Thank you also to the Granite Belt Irrigation Project for considering all sections of the community in the process. It is proving a slow process to get a dam funded and hopefully approved but the signing of this cultural heritage agreement assures me that it’s a true community project.

Congratulations to all involved.

– Councillor Stephen Tancred, Stanthorpe

If you have a letter or opinion you would like to share with Warwick/Stanthorpe Today readers, send your Letter to the Editor to newsdesk@warwickstanthorpetoday.com.au or drop it into our office at 94 Palmerin St, Warwick.

The editorial team holds the right to edit or withhold letters.