Strelow backs studies into Doblo's Gap Dam
ROCKHAMPTON mayor Margaret Strelow made a promise to Dominic Doblo after the council election in 2016 and she's keeping her word.
Cr Strelow promised she would back the outspoken businessman's calls for further studies into the Gap Dam if he could prove engineer John Bradford, of Sydney Harbour Bridge fame, had anything to do with the proposal.
Set 140km from the mouth of the Fitzroy River, the multi-billion dollar dam could hold 10,000 gigalitres, equalling Western Australia's Lake Argyle as the nation's largest artificial lake by volume.
It's a project Mr Doblo has been pushing since he put it back on the table in 2014, but it has largely been rejected by the region's politicians.
However, Cr Strelow yesterday told The Morning Bulletin it was time for Central Queensland to ask for "something bigger and bolder” and more research was needed before ruling The Gap out all together.
Her support didn't come easily, with quite a bit of research involved in confirming Mr Bradford had indeed given the project a nod.
Cr Strelow said they wrote to the State Library and had spent hours researching online and print biographies with no luck.
But it was on the pages of a 1930s edition of The Morning Bulletin that Mr Bradford's visit to the region was revealed.
Cr Strelow said he didn't endorse the project, but did see a benefit in exploring it further.
A 1970s study found the dam would not help flood mitigation, but Cr Strelow said the report didn't address the project's overall viability.
"This comes from a bigger picture frustration, I suppose, watching the big amounts of money for big, audacious projects that are going everywhere else in Australia, but not in Central Queensland,” she said.
"I've reached the position that I think we need to ask for something bigger and bolder.
"There's a battle going on between regional cities generally, it is in every sphere of life.
"The south-east corner has become this great vortex absorbing people and money and if regional Queensland, specifically Central Queensland, is going to fight back, we need something bigger than Ben Hur.
"I, more than anybody, know the legislative challenges that a big dam at The Gap would have.
"I could quote page and paragraph number of all the reasons why a big dam won't get the tick under the current governance and legislative guidance on the Fitzroy River.
"We keep playing by the rules and we miss out.
"In the absence of anything else, I've made good with my word to Dominic and I believe we should push for a study to either elevate the project and give it a little more grunt or rule it out completely.”
More than anything, Cr Strelow said she doesn't want to write off The Gap without first investigating whether it is a better option for investment than Rookwood Weir.
She admits the two projects are not compatible with each other and that suggesting further studies of The Gap is "cat among the pigeons stuff”.
"I'm not wanting to totally write off the current Rookwood plan at all,” she said.
"I know why Rookwood is the answer, but it just feels as though this is a moment for bigger thinking, just to check.”
Mr Doblo said Cr Strelow's position was a positive step forward.
"What we have to do is update the 1977 feasibility study to a modern standard,” Mr Doblo said.
He said such a study shouldn't take long to complete and he would be happy to be involved in overseeing the study.