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Media Release : Urannah Dam won't help Queensland Recover

7 May 2020

Mackay Conservation Group has questioned the Queensland Government’s support of a proposal to spend $2.9 billion on Urannah Dam in Central Queensland saying this is not the best use of public funds to enable an economic recovery.  

The Urannah Dam Project which was first proposed in the 1960s, was progressed today when the Queensland Coordinator General declared it a new coordinated project.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum, said “Queensland and Australia are facing an extraordinary crisis, the Queensland Government has proposed to progress another $2.9 billion pipe-dream.  

“The Queensland Government has a track record of dams that cost the public a lot of money, which later turned out to be economic disasters. You don’t have to look far, the Paradise Dam at Bundaberg has been an unqualified failure.

Since the 1960s there have been at least 25 investigations into the feasibility of a dam at Urannah Creek. None of them have resulted in a compelling case for this dam to go ahead.

Mr McCallum said “the area around Urannah Creek, where the dam site is proposed, is of high conservation value. It is home to the Irwin’s Turtle, which is considered by the Queensland Government as a high priority species.”

The Irwin's turtle was first discovered by famed naturalist Steve Irwin and his father Bob in 1990, and is a freshwater turtle with its main habitat in the Broken-Bowen River system which includes the proposed dam catchment. Habitat loss is identified as a key threat to this species.

“If proposed projects like the Urannah Dam are to go ahead it will directly affect the last remaining population stronghold of the turtle and will very likely endanger the survival of this ancient species,” Mr McCallum said. 

Mackay Conservation Group has also questioned the need for the Urannah Dam proposal.  The Burdekin Falls Dam, Queensland’s largest dam, has 50,000 megalitres of unallocated water and the Queensland Government is currently investigating the feasibility of raising the height of that dam by two metres. Burdekin Falls Dam is in the same catchment as the proposed Urannah dam.

Mr McCallum said, “we hope that the coordinated project process for Urannah Dam is full and comprehensive and considers an option for no dam, as well as other options such as eco-tourism. This must be done in conjunction and with the full consent of traditional owners.

“MCG stands in solidarity with the traditional owners of the land, the Widi and Biri People.”


For more information: please contact Peter McCallum on 0402966560 

High resolution photos of Urannah Creek and Irwin’s Turtle can be found at


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