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June 26, 2024

Which values are important?

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Public opinion sure is divided about the Dunoon Dam (the DuD). Clearly it does not have sufficient social licence to convince decision makers that it should proceed.

The issue has become one of values. For those who cherish Indigenous heritage, rainforest ecosystems, and endangered species such as koalas, then a project that destroys these things is never going to be acceptable, and will be resisted.

Social and environmental assets cannot just be ignored. They are part of triple bottom line accounting precisely because they are crucial to our society’s wellbeing, and even survival.

When it is apparent that the DuD is not only the most expensive but also the most insecure water option then the unnecessary destruction of irreplaceable assets becomes very difficult to justify.

Creative accounting methods, involving whole-of-life estimates and the total volume of the DuD (instead of the actual volume used), have been used to conceal the huge upfront cost of the DuD. With the usual blowouts this could amount to $400 million. This cost, and the loan repayments, would be borne by current ratepayers but would primarily benefit developers on the coast (where 75 per cent of the water would go). State government subsidies might cover a small proportion but the amount that ratepayers would have to carry is still very substantial.

Pro-dam advocates have vociferously claimed that the only acceptable water option is a second dam on the same creek (remember the 10,000 signatures? – that is what they demanded). No water authority in the world agrees with this idiotic concept.

Those in favour of the DuD consistently deny that intangible values even exist, let alone that they are important. The only values of consequence seem to be those that involve business opportunities and development.

On 4 December I hope that voters can stay true to their values and make sure that the business-trumps-all mentality will not prevail.

The candidates who have stated their opposition to the dam are making a strong statement that people and nature matter. They should be supported.

Nan Nicholson, The Channon

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