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City in the dark as pipeline looms

Tuesday, 10th January, 2017

By Daniel Stringer

It seems time may be running out for those wanting to put a stop to the contentious pipeline, as construction is set to get underway in April. 

The pipeline, which was first announced in June last year, has caused widespread debate, with many people struggling to see the need for such an expensive project. 

The pipeline was first announced by Premier Mike Baird during his visit to the Silver City last year, it was also announced that construction would begin early this year and be finished by the end of 2018. 

Over six months since the initial announcement however and there is still so many unanswered questions, the biggest being the cost that will be passed on to the Broken Hill community. 

Broken Hill councillor and water activist Tom Kennedy said one of his biggest concerns with the pipeline is making sure it doesn’t increase the price of water for Broken Hill.

“We need the state government to take responsibility for the cost of the pipeline and we shouldn’t be paying not one dollar of that cost,” he said.

The other major missing piece of information is the business case, which outlines key information and data relating to the pipeline.

The Broken Hill community have been requesting to see this plan since the project was announced, yet now only four months away from construction and the state government are still keeping these documents private.

Mr Kennedy said the reason the state government is reluctant to release the business case is because they want to avoid public backlash. 

“There would be a business case done, they are just not releasing it because my guess is that it contains information that the government doesn’t want to come out,” he said.

“I have no doubt that the business case would state that the pipeline would have a negative effect on the Menindee Lakes and that isn’t going to come out because it would be enough for people to take action.

“There would be protests in the thousands if people knew all the facts, so what they are doing is ensuring that people are not aware of what is going on until it is too late.”

At the September council meeting a motion was put before council to send correspondence to the state government requesting the release of information including the business case, however it was voted down as councillors argued this had already been done.  

Clr Kennedy, who put forward the motion, now said council needs to step up and continue to press the state government to ensure the community isn’t taken advantage of. 

“I think the council needs to pick up its game and push harder, as far as I am concerned this is a trigger for council to actually push as hard as they can to ensure the state government gives Broken Hill what it deserves.

“If council sits back and does nothing the state government will give us the minimum, if council and the community do all we can then we will get the most that we can.” 

The construction date for the pipeline comes at a time when water is again a hot topic in Broken Hill and Menindee, with releases from the Menindee Lakes being increased.

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