'They know what they're doing': Dam supporters frustrated
RESIDENTS have rejoiced over Emu Swamp's recent go ahead, but more should have been done sooner, according to behind-the-scenes players.
Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce secretary Amanda Harrold said while commerce was "thrilled” by the project's go ahead, she wished it had been in the works earlier.
"It would have been nice to have it happen faster, before we were at quarter capacity.
"It won't help with this drought but it will with future droughts.”
Mrs Harrold also criticised Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Tracy Dobie for her hesitation, adding the council hadn't been involved in the process at all.
"I think the mayor should have spoken to producers before saying anything,” she said.
"They have done their due diligence and put up 1 per cent of their funds.
"They know what they're doing, they're smart people.
"It would have been lovely to have the mayor congratulate and support us.”
As the project was private, Cr Dobie said the council was not the developers though they had been strong supporters.
"As this is an irrigation project, the council (as the provider of urban water) was not invited to have an active role in the development of the DBC (detailed business case),” she said.
"However myself, councillors and council staff attended the public information sessions that were conducted by the consultant.
"Since completion of the DBC, council has been advocating to the ... governments on behalf of the producers who have committed to invest.”
Confidence into the future
Chair of the Stanthorpe Community Reference Panel and Southern Downs councillor Vic Pennisi said the project's focus now was on giving producers the confidence to stay in the region.
"This project will help to sustain food producers into the future,” Cr Pennisi said.
"Apart from being the most important people on earth, food producers are also resilient, and we will work through all the issues faced by drought together, by supporting one another in these challenging times.
"Whilst there is still a long way to go, this is certainly a good outcome.”
The Stanthorpe Community Reference Panel and Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce have been instrumental in working alongside the proposed owner, Granite Belt Water, by creating a business case, which showed for every dollar spent on the project, it would return $1.47.
Mrs Harrold and Cr Pennisi both agreed the project would substantially improve Granite Belt's financial resources.
"Our whole economy is based on the horticultural industry,” Mrs Harrold said.
"It goes on through our schools and to how many teachers we get and to hospitals and everything.”
"This will inject significant economic benefits to the region,” Cr Pennisi said.