Labor will pull plug on dam -- Rudd woos voters on visit to Tyalgum
By PETER CATON
FEDERAL Opposition leader%Kevin Rudd yesterday promised% "under no circumstances" would a controversial Rocky Cutting dam west of Murwillumbah be built if he becomes prime minister.
His pledge in front of more than 200 people in the main street of the tiny Tweed village of Tyalgum brought wild cheers and applause.
Some residents who admitted they had previously voted conservative immediately vowed to switch their choice to Labor.
Mr Rudd's promise came just hours after a statement by the NSW Labor government opposing the unpopular dam plan and followed the refusal by Federal Water Minister Malcolm Turnbull to visit Tyalgum.
Tyalgum residents say the dam, which would provide water for drought-ravaged south-east Queensland, would flood most of their village, along with much of the Oxley River Valley west of Murwillumbah.
Residents, several on horseback, crowded outside the Tyalgum General Store to listen to Mr Rudd.
Mr Rudd said he and shadow minister for water Anthony Albanese had studied the government report proposing the dam which he suggested was drawn up in Mr%Turnbull's "dining room".
"It doesn't make any sense," he said. "Under no circumstances would we allow any such dam."
Mr Rudd praised the Tyalgum and Tweed community for bringing their objections to his notice through local Labor MP Justine Elliot, and repeatedly told locals what a beautiful place Tyalgum was.
"It's my first visit to Tyalgum. I like the look of it," he said.
"It reminds me of the town I grew up in which is Eumundi."
Mr Rudd went on to reveal his grandparents were from the Tweed before moving to Queensland's Sunshine Coast, adding: "My mother always said, until the day she died 'we are from the Tweed you know'."
Tyalgum village resident Nascent Ping said she would now vote Labor because the dam "would destroy the village".
Farmer Vic Sparks said he was "a conservative bloke", and although he was disillusioned with politicians he thought Rudd "may be worthwhile".
Conservationist and local film maker Harmony Church said: "He's listening and he's inter-%ested. I will vote for him".
School children lined the footpath to hold posters against the dam and thanking Mr Rudd.
Earlier, NSW Minister for Climate Change Phil Koperberg issued a statement saying federal plans to dam North Coast rivers were "not the solution for water shortages across the border in Queensland".
Mr Koperberg described the dam proposals as "not only poorly thought-out but potentially destructive for the local environment".
"The Beattie (Queensland) government is well-advanced with its water grid, and even if you started damming local NSW waterways tomorrow they'd still come online well after the projects north of the border," Mr Koperberg said.
Despite yesterday's promises, anti-dam campaigners still plan to go ahead with a protest meeting at the Murwillumbah Civic Centre on Monday night.
Uki hairdresser Angela Keenan, whose Rocky Cutting property could be resumed, said a big crowd was vital to send a message to Mr Turnbull and the Liberal and National Parties which had "failed to oppose the dam".