Review by Les White (PRA Treasurer/Secretary) – The Bradfield Scheme

21st February 2007

Australia is the driest continent on Earth is the excuse the State and Federal Government conveniently uses to cover up their lack of vision in not constructing the essential water Storage and Distribution Infrastructures required in order to sustain the population growth and encourage food and fibre production we require. The current Beattie Government is a shining example of this lack of vision .The reality is that we are the greatest water wasters on the Earth .It would be impossible to calculate the extremely large volume of water which flows back into the ocean following the wet season in tropical Northern Australia ,the wettest region this Continent .We do not attempt to save a drop of this valuable asset .Quite the opposite ,Beattie now proposes to lock up vast areas to prevent access to this valuable asset via “The Wild Rivers Act” .

Tropical Northern Australia and in particular North Queensland contains a vast network of rivers which drain a very large area of land .There has not been a National Scheme built in Australia since the Snowy Mountain Scheme .Dr  JJC Bradfield GMC ,D Sc, ME (1867-1943 ) presented, what was to become known as ”The Bradfield Scheme “,to the Queensland Parliament in 1938. A scheme which would have enabled water to be transferred to Inland Queensland from our Northern River Systems. Bradfield concentrated his design to the Johnson, Herbert, Burdekin and Flinders Rivers. The Leichardt, Nicholson, Gregory, Gilbert, Staaten, Norman and Mitchell Rivers should also warrant consideration in any future study.

Use could then be made of the catchment areas of the Rivers West of the Great Dividing Range to transfer water from the dams on these Northern Rivers to a series of dams and weirs on Western Rivers and into the flood out country of the channel country. On the Eastern coastal regions water could be transferred to the Burdekin Dam  then to a dam on the Fitzroy,Conners and Dawson Rivers then onto the Monduran Dam and onto the Paradise Dam. Water could then be transferred to the Wivenhoe, Somerset Dams etc. This way the billions of megalitres of water which flood the northern regions in the Wet Season could be diverted to all areas of Queensland and reduce the dreaded drought conditions which we now face on a very regular cycle.

These visions of growth and prosperity are not shared by our elected politicians. Beattie is far more interested in some little mickey mouse dam on the Mary River at Traverston and a Pipline to Southern Dams from the Burdekin Dam. Why won`t he look at a sustainable growth policy for the State as a whole instead of just South-East Queensland ? Two quotes by Henry Palaszcuk recorded in Hansard leave the reader in no doubt as to the misleading predictions the Government uses in its planning for water storage infrastructure for South-East Queensland. In 1989 “Calculations indicate no new source of water for Brisbane is required until at least 2030AD and possibly    2050 AD”. Then in 2006  this idiot was at it again,    “ What is the use of building dams, as it doesn`t rain enough to fill them “.Now this hypocrit offers his full support for the Traverston Dam which will prove not only an Environmental disaster but also a complete waste of taxpayer funds plus create severe hardships for the land holders in the region flooded, no wonder he retired. The Beattie Government in intent on locking up the vast water assets in Northern Queensland and is committing its resources to building dams in the south east which will never yield the water allowed to be wasted from the north. Beattie is just one step from the jungle to the zoo.

This obvious waste of water intrigued Bradfield who spent his later years riding over this area. On horseback armed only with very basic survey equipment he developed his designs. His work has stood the test of peer review and later engineers  and surveyors agree with the concept of the plan and dam sites he chose. Dr Eric Heicecker, Senior Lecturer in Geology at Queensland University, Ron Stainkey, fourth generation sheepman and Bob Katter MP then Queensland Minister for Northern Development produced the Queensland Water sub-committee Report. This Report proposed using waters from Northern Rivers and diverting them into Western and Central Western Plains for irrigation of crops, cattle fattening, timber plantations and drought mitigation for sheep and cattle.

Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen announced the Queensland Government was going to move forward and secured a commitment of $5 million from the Federal Government to commence further studies. This study into the feasibility became known as The Cameron-McNamara Report. Although only a limited report it stated “Our study shows that Bradfield`s original concept of inter basin transfer of water across the Great Dividing Range is physically possible , many of Bradfields details would have to be modified in light of the greater detail and information now available. So we are getting closer to the truth that the Bradfield would work and generate massive employment opportunities in Australia. Cameron-McNamara stated “Such a scheme would generate substantial direct employment and even more through the multiplier

 effect “. This report, strongly supported by the Bjelke-Petersen Government and received sufficient interest for the Federal Government to include the Bradfield Scheme in the Bicentenial Water Resources supplementary Programme.

Following Frazers defeat in 1983,the Bicentenial Water Programme was axed by the incoming Hawke Government. The Bjelke-Petersen Government then commissioned its own study by a consortium of Australia`s leading water engineers.

Guteridge Haskins Davey , Munro and Johnson, McIntyre andAssociates and Camerom and McNamara allowed the Bjelke-Petersen Government to form the Bradfield Study Consortium in 1984.Cabinet directed the Office of Northern Development to produce a cost benefit assessment of the Consortium Report including the ways and means. The Northern Development Assessment was completed in late 1989.With the fall of the National Party Government neither report was never made public. The Consortium Report and Assessment and Feasibility Study were both public documents but neither reports were published nor made available to the Queensland Public by the Goss Labor Government.

In July 1993 a major break through happened when all revenant Shire Councils of Central and North Queensland banded together to form the Northern Australian Water Development Council. This body is intent in ensuring the Bradfield Scheme is given a fair hearing by both State and Federal Governments. Beattie axed any future talks or discussions on the Bradfield Scheme when Labor won Government under his leadership.

The Bradfield Scheme will remove the Resource Demand on Regional Queensland and be a catalyst in restoring wealth and prosperity to this region. The Snowy Mountain Scheme gave Australia the post war boost it needed to become an Regional   Economic Powerhouse in the 1950`s.The Bradfield Scheme will take Australia into the 21 st Century and beyond as a Regional Leader and Economic Power Force.

Australia has a chronic dole dependent society and associated problems which cost billions. Queensland can change this direction and boost employment, productivity, infrastructure     development, health care and regional development by adoption of the Bradfield Scheme. We have learnt nothing from the great depression of the 1930`s, dependence on world demand for our coal, iron ore, uranium and other resources and the current unemployment benefit dependence unless we create large public work programmes such as the Bradfield Scheme. Australia will then become the Lucky, Well Watered Country. The benefits are enormous and achievable. The Beattie forced water shortage situation in South East Queensland and droughts across our Regional Areas would be almost eliminated. Regional Queensland would once again become the economic powerhouse driving Queensland and importantly keeping families and communities together.

We need Leadership with the passion, vision and guts to implement such a National Infrastructure Scheme.