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Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson's Disconnected and Dismissive Comments on Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project

Updated: 14 hours ago

This morning, Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson spoke with ABC Tropical North’s Meecham Philpott about the Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project, and his comments were nothing short of infuriating. The Mayor's blatant disregard for the facts and the community's suffering is a disgrace.

Greg Williamson casually mentioned that Queensland Hydro's job is to "construct a business case." Let's be clear: constructing this so-called business case has caused over 20 months of absolute hell for residents in Eungella, Dalrymple Heights, and Netherdale. It has torn communities apart, decimated tourism, destroyed our roads with relentless traffic from Queensland Hydro contractors, and invaded platypus habitats with drilling rigs. This disastrous project has already cost locals their way of life and Queensland taxpayers over $111 million. And if it follows the trend of other hydro projects in Australia, it could end up costing us $80 to $90 billion.

Williamson then had the audacity to claim that "no one had seen anything in terms of an image library of what this thing is going to look like." The sheer ignorance. Save Eungella released artist impressions almost a year ago, in June 2023, which closely resemble the recently released images from Queensland Hydro. How out of touch can he be?

He also tried to downplay the timeline, saying the project was announced "12 months ago." Wrong again. It’s been 20 months since this nightmare was announced. In that time, locals have been fighting tirelessly against the government and Queensland Hydro, and their contractors.

And then, the Mayor says, "whatever they've done they're not able to share with anyone at the moment." So, after 20 months, all they can show are some pretty pictures? No business case, no clear costs, no transparency about their investigative work. This is beyond unacceptable.

Williamson's claim that Queensland Hydro doesn't need council approvals is flat-out wrong. The Mackay Regional Council has sighted the Public Sector Act 2022 as a way passing the ball of responsibility, however the act does not exempt public entities from complying with local council regulations, including land use and building codes.

He further stated, "there is no way a local government is going to stop it," which is just wrong. Just look at the Mudgee council, which successfully stopped the 10-megawatt Burrundulla solar project after a five-year fight. Councils do have power if they choose to use it. But instead of standing up for his community, our Mayor prefers to sit on the fence and do nothing.

When asked about the council’s stance on the project, Williamson cowardly responded, "our position doesn't matter anyway." This is a cop-out of the highest order. It absolutely matters to the hundreds of locals in Eungella, Dalrymple Heights, and the Pioneer Valley. These people need a council that will fight for their best interests and protect their pristine environment. Instead, they get a mayor who is either too lazy or too indifferent to care.

How can we trust a mayor who is so clueless about the basic facts of this project? How can we rely on someone who refuses to take a stand and shows no support for the people he is supposed to represent? We deserve better than this.



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