15 November 2017
The adjournment matter that I raise this evening is for the Minister for Water. The action I seek is for the minister to instruct Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority to clean out Whiteheads Creek at Seymour, particularly between Delatite Road and the Goulburn River. There is about 40 years of debris in Whiteheads Creek. It has been building up since Seymour flooded in 1973, and local residents are extremely concerned about the impact that that might have on the town.
I recently went with a local resident, Peter Chapman, to have a look at the creek and observed firsthand the amount of debris in the creek. Not only is it a visual blight on the amenity of Seymour, but there is no doubt that it acts as a trap for water when Whiteheads Creek is in flood. It also hits the railway line, which acts as a second barrier.
Whiteheads Creek is particularly problematic when the Goulburn River is running at high levels and when you have a rain event in the Whiteheads Creek catchment. It tends to hit the Goulburn River and wash back onto Seymour, creating extensive damage. When we were in government we funded a levee for Seymour. That levee still has not been built. We funded a bit over $500 000 for the first two stages of the levee, which included detailed design and identification of those mitigation works. We then provided a further $833 000 to progress the project, and after that the federal government, through the federal Nationals, also came on board along with Mitchell Shire Council.
Progress on that project has been at a snail's pace, and there is actually a discussion amongst some members of the community whether the levee is the right way to progress. I actually support them being able to explore some other options. There is real concern among the community that the levee, as designed by the catchment management authority, will not achieve the aim of lifting the flood overlay in the town. That flood overlay is stymieing development and is holding Seymour back from its potential.
If the government was to proceed in building that levee solely as a mechanism for achieving environmental flows through the Murray-Darling Basin Authority plan, through its constraints management, I would be deeply concerned. If the levee does progress, it has to address the issue of the flood overlay and lift the flood overlay, otherwise other options should be explored, and I support that happening. In the meantime, getting Whiteheads Creek cleaned out is important.