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Uniting Church Moderator damns government treatment

Queensland Uniting Church Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman

Queensland’s moderator is supporting residents who will be displaced by the proposed Traveston Crossing dam in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Moderator of the Uniting Church Rev Dr David Pitman met with effected residents at Imbil on Thursday evening and toured the central Mary Valley on Friday to meet local people and gain a more complete understanding of the issues.

Dr Pitman listened to the concerns and responded to the grief and anger of the people with a commitment to support them in every way possible.

"The treatment of the people in the Mary Valley by this government is shameful and unacceptable," he said.

"To the state government these are just a group of people from one part of the world that no one much cares about."

Local Uniting Church minister Rev Iain Watt spoke of abysmal support and information coming from government help lines.

"Business and families are on hold and stymied in their hopes and planning, those who have lived in the area for generations are distraught, and children are stirred up and anxious as they see their parents continually stressed," Mr Watt said.

The church’s Social Justice Advocate Ms Heather den Houting who traveled with the Moderator said the Uniting Church in Australia has clear environmental policies which cover the building of major water catchments and storage facilities.

"The church says that such disturbances should be determined in a democratically legitimate process, with respect for the rights of nature and only where the disturbance is not inordinate."

After a day and a half of consultations Dr Pitman concluded: "on the basis of the evidence this is not a good site.

"It would seem to me that this is a commitment to change the environment for ever. It can never be the same again."

Dr Pitman, march with residents from the Valley in Brisbane on Saturday morning but Premier Beattie declined to leave the ALP Convention to meet the marchers.

“I believe the behaviour has been abusive; it has been callous; it has been uncaring …and this from a government which declares itself to be a government that cares for people,” he said.

“Well all of us I know would like to see some hard evidence of that caring.”

Dr Pitman believes that the local residents and the Save the Mary River Committee are more than capable of arguing the environmental case against the government proposals.

"Our primary concern is for the people and they way they are being treated."

Photo : Queensland Uniting Church Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman