Tweed snubbed -- Turnbull visits Gold coast but Tyalgum not on his agenda
By PETER CATON
POTENTIAL future Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is today set to inflame anger over proposals for a huge dam near Murwillumbah by snubbing the Tweed in a visit to the Gold Coast.
Mr Turnbull, who is Federal Environment and Water Minister, is expected to visit Tugun, just across the Queensland border this morning.
He is to address a water forum on issues likely to include the development of south- east Queensland's new desalination plant behind the nearby Gold Coast Airport.
But he won't be driving south to explain to Tweed residents the federal government's stance on its proposals for a controversial dam on the Oxley River which would flood the village of Tyalgum.
A spokesperson for Mr Turnbull's office confirmed he would%attend the water forum at Tugun, another meeting at Currumbin and would visit Bond University at%Robina.
On Monday night a protest meeting in Murwillumbah called on Mr Turnbull to "make an unqualified statement" that the dam "is off the agenda" after being told he had repeatedly refused to meet locals.
Yesterday organiser of the meeting and president of the Save the Caldera Rivers Campaign Peter Bennett accused Mr Turnbull of "treating this area with disdain".
Mr Bennett said 150 people attending Monday night's meeting unanimously called for the "unqualified statement" that the federal government had reconsidered x the planned dam.
"We want an unqualified statement that it is no longer even a%reasonable option," he said, Mr Bennett said the crowd showed "enormous hostility" towards Mr Turnbull, who had refused to meet local people affected by the dam proposals even though he is due in Tugun this morning.
"He is treating this area with disdain," said Mr Bennett.
"He throws a grenade in here, and then doesn't have the courtesy when he realises it's gone past the joke stage to come back and say 'sorry about this'.
"It is absolute arrogance.There are people who have put in building applications to do something on their houses. They have all but been put on hold.
"A couple of people have gone to the banks.
"The first question the banks are asking is if the properties are part of the proposed dam area."
Monday night's meeting came hard on the heels of a promise made in Tyalgum on Friday by%opposition leader Kevin Rudd that if he becomes prime minister "under no circumstances" would the controversial Rocky Cutting Dam be built.
Labor MP for Richmond Justine Elliot said it was "absolutely outrageous" for Mr Turnbull to visit Tugun and not the Tweed.
"I want him to come to Tyalgum and tell exactly what his plans for the dam are," she said.
"If he is just up the road at Tugun it is a pretty quick trip to Tyalgum."
Monday night's meeting was also addressed by the National Party candidate for Richmond Dr Sue Page who argued she personally felt the dam would create more problems than it would solve but revealed she had been unable to obtain any clear statement from the government that it was being reconsidered.