He won't go away

By PETER CATON

Malcolm Turnbull has re-ignited%fury over a proposal for a dam west of Murwillumbah by revealing the federal government is ready to move to "the next phase".

In a letter to Richmond Labor MP Justine Elliot, the Federal Water and Environment Minister says he has "asked the National Water Commission to develop terms of reference for the next phase of work to further investigate options for future water supply in north-east New South Wales and south-east Queensland".

The next phase is to include more%x detailed assessment of proposed dam sites including Rocky Cutting west of Murwillumbah where residents say a dam would partly flood the village of Tyalgum and affect hundreds of properties along the%Oxley River and nearby streams.

The further study would also look at pipeline routes as well as "environmental, social and cost benefit assessments" of the various dam options.

Ms Elliot said the letter exposed "the fact that the Liberal and%National parties are intent on building a dam at Tyalgum".

"Malcolm Turnbull has signalled his full commitment to move onto the Liberal/ National parties' 'next phase' in their scheme to dam Tyalgum," she said. Conservationist Jim Warburton, who has been spearheading a battle against the dam, was outraged.

"He told me in August the report on Rocky Cutting and other options was just to generate community awareness," Mr Warburton said.

"He and Sue Page (National party candidate for Richmond) treated us like idiots and said this was a state government decision."

"He unequivocally said it was just a report to generate interest and show options and the state government was the one who had the call.

"And he guaranteed not to nationalise water on the Queensland/New South Wales border, in other words not to usurp the state's authority."

Mr Warburton said he feared the federal government would do that and seek Tweed Shire Council support by promising to hand over the dam to the council in 10 years time after other measures such as desalination were put in place to solve Queensland's water shortages.



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