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January 21, 2022

Accusations of false dam claims in Cr Cadwallader’s mayoral campaign

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Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader. Photo David Lowe.

Ballina Shire Council candidates against the idea of a new dam in Byron’s hinterland are accusing fellow candidate Sharon Cadwallader of false claims in her electoral campaign.

Ms Cadwallader is an incumbent member of the council and also represents the local government on the Rous County Council, responsible for town water supply on much of the Northern Rivers.

She’s the only woman running for Ballina mayor this year, alongside four other current serving councillors: Jeff Johnson, Keith Williams, Stephen McCarthy and Eoin Johnston.

The Greens aren’t running for the mayoral position but have a team of candidates in each of Ballina’s three wards.

Some have accused Cr Cadwallader of using the Dunoon Dam as a political wedge during the election campaign period, and if so, she has likely succeeded.

Ballina Shire Council candidates have taken firm positions either for or against a project already scrapped repeatedly by the Rous County Council.

‘Fearful’ and ‘shock terminology’ says Johnson of Cadwallader campaign

Cr Jeff Johnson in Ballina. Photo David Lowe.

Crs McCarthy and Johnston say they support Cr Cadwallader’s call for an independent inquiry into the feasibility of a dam near the hinterland village of Dunoon.

But Crs Johnson and Williams and The Greens are against the idea and have relayed their frustration at what they say are false claims made about the Rous County Council Future Water Strategy 2060 in Cr Cadwallader’s campaign ads on television and social media.

The criticisms reflect concerns expressed in a letter to The Echo from outgoing independent Cr Sharon Parry, who declined to name the candidate she referred to.

‘The Greens and Labor will have you drinking toilet water and plundering our aquifer,’ says one of Cr Cadwallader’s election campaign ads, drawing immediate ire from Cr Johnson.

‘There’s no letting the truth get in the way of this emotive nonsense,’ Cr Johnson wrote in a statement to The Echo, while Greens’ Ballina Shire Council C Ward candidate Simon Chate described the language used as ‘fearful’ and ‘shock terminology’.

Cr Williams is RCC Chair and told The Echo ‘a number of the claims’ made in Cr Cadwallader’s campaign ads about water security were ‘patently false’.

Cadwallader says Rous indigenous heritage report not finished

Ballina Shire Councillor Keith Williams. Photo David Lowe.

Cr Williams also quoted Cr Cadwallader as telling attendees at a Ballina Chamber of Commerce mayoral candidates’ forum on Wednesday there was no documented indigenous heritage in the area of land that would have been used for the Dunoon Dam.

‘This is patently false,’ Cr Williams told The Echo on Thursday, ‘there is a 436 page indigenous heritage study on the Rous County Council website that is publicly available’.

Responding to the criticism, Cr Cadwallader said the report in question hadn’t been finished.

‘I’m not saying there’s nothing there,’ Cr Cadwallader said, ‘but finish the study’.

‘There is no cultural heritage registered in the dam’s footprint.’

Cadwallader’s campaign ‘recycled’ from QLD Nats campaign, says Williams

Cr Williams described Cr Cadwallader’s ‘toilet to tap’ campaign against recycled water as itself being recycled from a 2007 National Party campaign in Toowoomba, QLD.

Cr Cadwallader is running as an independent but is a former chair of the Nationals’ Women’s Council.

Cr Williams said the Ballina Shire Council had already invested $60 million towards upgrading wastewater treatment plants to be fit for purple pipes carrying recycled water.

The Rous Chair said all new housing estates in Cumbalum and Lennox Head had access to the purple pipes for toilet flushing and gardening but the water wasn’t for drinking or bathing.

Cr Williams lamented that only 13% of recycled water in the region was actually re-used while the rest was ‘flushed out to the river or the ocean’ and said he’d like to be elected onto the Rous County Council again if he won another term on the Ballina Shire Council.

Cr Cadwallader said she had voted in support of the purple pipe scheme 15 years ago and considered it ‘a good thing’, whereby the recycled water was charged at 20% less than other town water.

But she maintained she’d ‘said nothing that isn’t true’ in her campaign.

‘It’s sewage water and there is no legislation in NSW to allow it,’ Cr Cadwallader told The Echo on Thursday.

‘I don’t believe we need to be drinking toilet water when we have five times the state average rainfall here,’ she said.

Mr Chate for The Greens said the party supported the use of recycled water and listed places overseas that already did, aside from parts of Australia: California, Kuwait, Singapore, the United Kingdom and South Africa.

‘As The Greens, we’re standing right behind the Rous County Council 2060 water strategy, we want to honour that,’ Mr Chate said.

Greens candidate quotes misinformation in dam survey distribution

Mr Chate backed concerns raised by Cr Parry about a survey on the dam proposal handed out at a shopping centre in Alstonville.

‘People were feeling pressured to sign the thing,’ Mr Chate said, ‘there were campaigners going up to people in the plaza and saying “do you realise you’re going to be drinking toilet water?”’.

Mr Chate described a friend asking the survey distributors about potential impacts on rainforest in the Dunoon Dam potential footprint.

‘It’s “just privet”’, they said,’ Mr Chate relayed, ‘it’s not honouring reality really’.

Mr Chate said the site actually included 28 hectares of subtropical rainforest, six hectares of warm temperate forest, and that up to six per cent of ‘the last remaining Big Scrub would be affected or inundated’ if the dam was built.

‘And it would take out the Channon Gorge,’ Mr Chate said, before describing a potential ‘massive loss of koala life and platypus’.

The Greens member said the ‘Dunoon koala’ needed protection because its genus was more ‘outbred’ and therefore more robust than coastal koalas that were more inbred.

Byron residents ‘unaware’ of plans for groundwater extraction in Tyagarah, says Cadwallader

Mr Chate objected to Cr Cadwallader’s claims about Rous plans for bores on the Alstonville plateau.

The council candidate said while existing water use from basins below the plateau was unmetred, at least eight gigalitres per year was being used for farming and by Rous.

‘Rous wants to take out their bore to leave the shallow aquifer for farming and to drill a deeper hole into the Clarence Moreton basin,’ Mr Chate said.

‘The council would then take 1.2 gigalitres for Alstonville and Wollongbar if needed.’

But Cr Cadwallader said there was no data showing how much water was available beneath the plateau and that Alstonville wasn’t the only place Rous had in mind for groundwater extraction.

Rous planned to investigate the same option for Tyagarah in the Byron Shire.

‘A lot of people in Byron aren’t aware that’s going to be plundered as well,’ Cr Cadwallader said.

Cadwallader says party politics influenced Rous vote on dam

The independent mayoral candidate said the Dunoon Dam was axed for political reasons.

‘There are three Greens and two Labor members on Rous,’ Cr Cadwallader said, ‘they have the majority vote’.

‘Everybody supported the dam all the way through until the vote came in December 2020,’ she said.

‘I heard Darlene Cook say she was told at a Labor Party meeting that if she voted for the dam they would not support her at the local government and would campaign against her.

‘So they’re not doing this for the good of the community, it’s for their own political ambition.’


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9 COMMENTS

  1. “false claims” abound in this very obviously constructed political campaign.
    God knows how much damage the National Party has inflicted on this country’s environment and are certainly responsible for the bulk of our horrendous rate of extinctions, however it is remarkable that the dam site was decided on fifty years ago, the land acquired and all feasibility requirements filled, then recently all manor of objections have been found ( or constructed ).
    Platypuses would love a new dam and this would double the habitat for the endangered Eastern Cod, while any Koalas in this area must be lost, or as figmentary as the aboriginal heritage that is now being manufactured.
    Cheers, G”)

    • “or as figmentary as the aboriginal heritage that is now being manufactured.” You’re racist. You’re racist because your statement tries to silence Widjabul voices for the purpose of pushing the dam agenda. Demeaning and racist.

  2. What’s with these anti local Aboriginal people, anti rainforest, anti climate science, anti water recycling political candidates? For a start, it’s blatantly ignorant and racist for them to denigrate the presentation, by the Widjabul Wai:bal Tribe, of the information about their burial grounds, their beliefs and traditions and their sacred places in the threatenef dam site area, that they presented as a Report to Rous County Council. And these pro dam people are hypocritical too, as well as frighteningly impervious to the rights of others, as these very same folk would fight to the bitter end to save their own graveyards, churches and properties. My problem is, people like these are inexplicable to me. They are so strictly money and profit oriented, they must never have walked in the this rainforest or know a single thing about it, to be able to hold such materialistic, selfish attitudes, that allow them to contemplate the inundation of such a beautiful, vanishingly rare place. And that is such pathetic, evidence free propagandising to frighten people by saying that “the Greens and Labor will have you drinking toilet water and plundering our aquifer”. I would say shame, shame but what’s the use, it seems that as far as Aboriginal rights and the survival of the rainforest, these people haven’t got any.

  3. Really ken manufactured indigenous heritage, that’s just a wrong statement. Typical nat lies starting with her being independent, scare campaign on recycled water, dam is to catch our high rainfall( check stats it’s becoming more inconsistent), plundering aquifers- already occurring with unmetered bores. The NATs have a bad record on water management little alone the environment. Actually endangered cod need water flows for breeding unless stocking it for fishing, but alas a drinking water supply, no fishing. Platypus don’t do that well in water storage due to fluctuating water levels affecting their food supply and their nesting in burrows.

  4. Ken it appears you know nothing about habitat requirements of eastern cod or platypus. Neither would benefit from the construction of this dam.
    And SO WHAT if it was identified as a dam site 50 years ago?? That was back in the great Age of Ignorance & Plunder. Rainforest was still being logged then & the few researchers & conservationists who voiced concerns about koalas & aboriginal sites were derided & dismissed. Scientific & technological advances have changed lots of things except for bigoted views about the value of cultural heritage. Seems like you’re stuck in the early 1970’s….. times change, get a grip on reality

  5. Just what is wrong with this National Party? To say they consistently lie cheat and steal would be a massive understatement; how about a pack of environment vandals? Every time they are empowered to implement any form of resource-based policy especially water and mining, the environment always suffers. Look at the disaster Barnaby Joyce and his National mates have inflicted upon the Murray/Darling river system. The National Party should be permanently banned from having any influence on environmental issues.

  6. Cadwallader has a pic of her with a koala on her campaign poster, yet is wanting to flood an area rainforest and koala habitat with a dam.
    I bet she has never been for a bushwalk in her life, let alone been to whian whian falls and the regenerating area of rainforest below the falls that will be at the bottom of the dam when it is done.
    The beuracrats that run the electricity grid are going to charge rooftop solar owners to put their power in the grid from 2025 because they say the system is being overloaded(another absolute joke).
    Why not divert this power into running a desalinator when their is a surplus of electricity to add water to the supply or even divert it west to where it is needed most. The water can be sold to supplement the take up of solar. The main problem with desalination is the high energy use, so using the surplus power from solar would be a good outcome. We should be embracing desalination instead of draining the rivers and the environment of its water.
    We don’t need any more dams in Australia that flood natural environments or arable farmland.
    Vote this fool out. We need some fresh faces on council.

  7. Cr Cadwallader’s quote that ‘There is no cultural heritage registered in the dam’s footprint’ is just gobsmacking.

    She must know about the 2013 Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment (CHIA) that is posted on the Rous County Council website.

    The actual site locations have been redacted, as they should be, but their existence , and their registration is not disputed. The Executive Summary of the CHIA says on p.8:
    “The current study has identified a number of significant Aboriginal cultural heritage values and sites. These include: the burials (25) located as a group in the proposed dam site; several stone artefacts; scarred trees; and grinding grooves. The most significant site located was the burial ground, with the other sites not rare in their own right, but contributing to the picture of Aboriginal use of the valley over time”

    “Aboriginal stakeholders are currently of the opinion that the sites should remain undisturbed and that no level of disturbance is considered acceptable to them, especially when concerned with impacts upon the burials, which they see serving as a direct link to the ancestors of the registered stakeholders. The other sites located are also considered significant as a collection, showing a clear pattern of use for the valley by Aboriginal people over time.”

    The CHIA also states that “large sections of the dam area were inaccessible due to a combination of thick vegetation and steep terrain in conjunction with inclement weather patterns” . It recommends that more research should be done and provides a map of the areas most likely to contain more evidence.

    This is not the same as claiming that the study was never finished. Scientists always suggest more research.

    Cr Cadwallader does not deserve to stand on Rous County Council since she is so ready to shred, manipulate and fabricate evidence about Aboriginal cultural heritage.

  8. Cadwallader must be behind the times in more ways than one. More research WAS done in 2013, by Senior archaeologist Douglas Hobbs, cited by Nanette in previous comment. It concurred with the 2011 Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment 2011: ‘When the evidence is taken collectively, particularly the mound variation of orientation, size, shape and distribution as well as the remote location, combine to support the previous conclusions of the initial cultural heritage survey’ (Hobbs 2013:8). At the time no ground disturbing archaeological works were undertaken, and just as well. Technology has superceded the need for it in archaeology. As if it needed proving beyond the Traditional Owners word. LIDAR via drone could be used if there was any archaeological interest to satisfy, however the burial mounds are beyond a doubt of significance. The burial mounds are extremely rare in northern NSW. They would be inundated.

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