A protest sign calling on Richmond MP Justine Elliot to help put a stop to water extraction in the Tweed.
A protest sign calling on Richmond MP Justine Elliot to help put a stop to water extraction in the Tweed. Contributed

Protesters seek 'justice', want MP to stop water mining

A GIANT protest banner demanding an end to water mining in the Tweed blocked the entrance to Federal MPJustine Elliot's office today, only to be rapidly torn down.

The banner, blaring the words 'We want Justice Elliot: No more water mining in Tweed' was erected by anonymous protesters early this morning, only to be quickly taken down by staff members.

The message was targeted not only at Mrs Elliot but also at staff member Councillor Reece Byrnes, whose casting vote last month approved a controversial development application by former state Labor minister Jack Hallam to extract 24 mega litres of water annually from his Rowlands Creek Rd property near Uki.

The protest comes ahead of a Tweed Shire Council meeting on Thursday, where councillors will debate a rescission motion on the controversial DA.

Last month council approved the plans four votes to three, after Cr Byrnes supported the application.

However, council will reassess its decision on Thursday after Mayor Katie Milne lodged a rescission motion in a bid to stop the application from moving forward.

 

Tweed Water Alliance members protesting against water extraction in the shire.
Tweed Water Alliance members protesting against water extraction in the shire. Richie Mamando

But despite growing pressure from the community, Mrs Elliot said she had the protest sign quickly removed to allow access to her office.

"People are entitled to make their concerns heard but that particular banner impeded access to my office and was right in front of the disabled parking space," Mrs Elliot told Tweed Daily News.

"It was removed immediately. My primary concern is that those people who want to enter my office can do so safely."

Despite campaigning against the location of the Tweed Valley Hospital at Cudgen - a state government issue - Mrs Elliot said she would not get involved with the debate over water extraction as it was a council matter.

"There are lot of issues I get involved in, including health but (councillors) are the decision-makers in this case," she said.

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Tweed Water Alliance spokesperson Pat Miller said the group, which has been protesting against the Hallam application for almost two years, weren't involved in the sign outside Mrs Elliot's office.

"We're being incredibly heartened by the support coming out of the woodwork in the community," Mr Miller said.

"We don't own the issue and I think people are hugely angry about the fact that Reece Byrnes who is supposed to be a pro-environment (councillor) actually voted for this."

Council staff call for action

Meanwhile, council staff are urging councillors to make a final decision on Mr Hallam's application, stating in their report to council that another deferral "will impact negatively on the overall DA determination performance".

Cr Milne is asking council at Thursday's meeting to seek further consideration and hydrological testing from Mr Hallam to address concerns raised in a hydrology report commissioned by Tweed Water Alliance.

Cr Milne is also calling for further investigation into potential traffic impacts of large water trucks on local roads.

Cr Byrnes has been contacted for comment.


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