The cover of Chris Masters? book Jonestown, which was released yesterday.
The cover of Chris Masters? book Jonestown, which was released yesterday.

Jones? water grab

By RENEE FORD

renee.ford@dailyexaminer.com.au

MPs slam shock jock's plan for Clarence

INFLUENTIAL media personality Alan Jones has called on the Howard Government to investigate a post-World War Two idea to pipe two million megalitres of water annually from the Clarence River to the Murray Darling Basin.

On Friday Mr Jones used his regular Today show segment to air the thoughts of Jack Beale, an MP in the 1940s and leading advocate of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

The 2GB radio shock jock, whose controversial life has been chronicled in the book 'Jonestown' (released yesterday), said the Fraser-Anthony government in 1983 approved $4 million to investigate Mr Beale's ideas. He claimed the Hawke Labor government cancelled the approval.

"Basically Jack Beale was talking about a Clarence development scheme and he was well advanced on how it would happen," Mr Jones said.

"Fourteen strategically-sited storage dams, linked by a series of cuttings, tunnels and pipelines for transferring water and for power generation.

"He argued that it would divert two million megalitres, four Sydney Harbours, annually to the Murray Darling Basin.

"And this would increase the flow of the Murray Darling by 100 per cent.

"And he talked about having it all under way by Bicentenary, 1988, and completed by the Centenary of Federation in 2001. It's now 2006.

"Not one syllable of that proposal by Jack Beale has been addressed. And an increasingly angry electorate wants to know why." Mr Jones quoted large extracts of Mr Beale's research throughout his editorial: "Ingenious development of the Clarence Basin could create a giant water power project which would dwarf the Snowy Mountain Scheme. Enormous national economic benefits would flow from water used for towns, industry, mining, power generation, food production and conservation. New South Wales would get the greatest boost from the peak load power and from water making the arid inland bloom."

But the comments have been slammed by Nationals MPs Ian Causley and Steve Cansdell.

Mr Causley, the retiring Federal Member for Page, said the option had been investigated and was found to be unfeasible.

"Alan Jones doesn't know what he's talking about," Mr Causley told The Daily Examiner yesterday.

n Continued: P4.

From P1.

"It's a pipedream, pardon the pun. It's not feasible, it's far too expensive, even if you use hydraulic power and the off-peak power, it's still too expensive."

Mr Causley said a much more realistic option of recyling water was already being explored.

"We need to recycle as much as we can," he said.

"We also need to have more storage, the population is growing rapidly and we need to use it wisely.

"The flow of the Clarence can't be diverted, so it will continue to run out to sea."

Mr Cansdell, the State Member for Clarence, also dismissed Jones' remarks.

"He's talking about a scheme that was proposed some 50 or 60 years ago," he said.

"I don't support the damming of the Clarence River.

"Alan Jones and Co. are using the same methodology used by white man when they first came to Australia.

"It's a lazy and non-sustainable way. There are better ways and recycling is one of those ways we're looking into.

"We've moved forward; recycling has to be the way of the future."

Clarence Valley Council mayor Ian Tiley reaffirmed council's 'unanimous opposition' to any damming of the Clarence River.

The Daily Examiner attempted to contact Mr Jones, but was told he will be away all week.

What do you think?

Let us know at

pellem@dailyexaminer.com.au



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