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Labor’s desal debacle

Queenslanders have been growing increasingly concerned the Palaszczuk Labor Government has no plan for the new infrastructure we need to protect our enviable way of life, including water security for the future.

After nearly a decade of no plans for our future water security and under mounting pressure from decreasing dam levels and increasing water security concerns, the Palaszczuk Government has announced a desalination plant will be built somewhere between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

Labor has a secret plan to build a desalination plan on Bribie Island they don’t want you to know about.

Fifteen years ago, another Labor state government proposed Bribie Island as a site for a desalination plant. You, the community, sent a clear message – NO! And those plans were scrapped.

But now, Labor’s plan for a desalination plant for Bribie is back. 

There’s been no warning and no consultation. 

The chaos and crisis within the Labor Government has reached a whole new level and Bribie locals are now caught in the crossfire. Many of you have already contacted me and the LNP, anxious and confused by the premier’s announcement and shocking lack of detail.

Where on the Island will it be built?

Which beach will it be on?

Will it be where Loggerhead turtles’ nest?

And where is Member for Pumicestone Ali King?

It’s disgraceful how disrespectfully the premier and Ali King have treated Bribie Island residents. Bribie Island residents deserve to know exactly what’s going on with this secret plan.

In parliament, we specifically asked Labor’s water minister to rule out Bribie Island as a location for the desalination plant. Given three direct opportunities, the minister refused to rule it out and later admitted to media they were looking at Bribie Island.

Below is a transcript of the minister’s response.

Mrs FRECKLINGTON: My question is to the Minister for Water. Are any locations in the Pumicestone electorate, including Bribie Island, being considered for a water desalinisation plant?

Mr BUTCHER: I thank the member for the question. If the member had listened carefully yesterday to ministerial statements and to the media we did, she would know that Seqwater has a 30-year plan and part of that plan is to build a desalinisation plant by 2035 in the northern part of the south east Queensland water grid. We currently have one of the safest grids in Australia, if not the world. It includes desalinisation, recycled water and also our dams in south east Queensland. Part of the way forward is to do detailed business cases for two proposals we have put forward for short-term support for the south east Queensland water grid. To start with there is a proposal to make sure that we connect and upgrade the desalinisation plant at Tugun by 2031. The detailed business case for that is moving forward and will be handed to the government by early 2024.

Crazily, we heard last night in this parliament the Member for Nanango screaming about having the money to build two extra dams in south east Queensland. I want to point a few things out this morning in relation to the Member for Nanango’s comments last night. There is no proposal in the Moreton Bay water plan to build any new large-scale dams in south east Queensland. I also want to make another point clear—

Mr POWELL: Mr Speaker, I rise to a point of order on relevance, 118(b). The question was very short and specific about plans to build a desalination plant in the Pumicestone electorate, including on Bribie Island.

Mr SPEAKER: I am listening to the answer and the minister has made multiple references to desalination plants and plans by the government as I hear it. I will allow the minister to continue with his response.

Mr BUTCHER: I want to make it quite clear to the opposition that there is a dam in Queensland called Wyaralong Dam, which was built during the millennium drought for water security for south east Queensland and it has not yet been connected to the water grid. As part of the south east Queensland water plan moving forward, we will be hooking up Wyaralong Dam to the water grid to support south east Queensland water users. That is a sensible decision by Seqwater to ensure that we can supply extra water into the grid due to population growth and climate change—all the reasons we need more water security in Queensland.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Pause the clock. Minister, under 118(b) I ask that you address the direct component of the question. I believe it was reasonably direct. I appreciate the broader context that you are providing.

Mr BUTCHER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. What we did say yesterday in relation to a desalinisation plant in 2035 is that Seqwater will be doing a detailed business case that will be delivered to government in 2025. That detailed business case will look at the amount of water Seqwater says we will need to ensure, with the people coming into Queensland, we have water security into the future. They will be looking at the location of the desalination plant to ensure it is close enough to the grid that it will not be too expensive to build. The north part of the south east Queensland water grid is the obvious place for it because we already have a desalinisation plant in the southern part.

Labor's water minister Glenn Butcher won’t rule out plans to build the desalination plant on Bribie Island, because it’s his secret plan.

After nearly nine years in power, the Palaszczuk Labor Government has stopped listening to Queenslanders. They have stopped listening to Bribie Island locals. I won’t stop listening to locals and fighting to keep Bribie’s beaches free from Labor’s desal debacle.

If you’d like to put a stop to Labor’s secret desalination plan for Bribie Island please sign the petition at


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