IT’S the day we never thought would come – but it has – and the job is now done.
Those were the words of former Barraba Shire Council mayor and former Tamworth Regional councillor Shirley Close yesterday, as the $15.2 million Split Rock Dam to Barraba pipeline was officially opened.
As rain poured down on the once dry and desolate town on the outer reaches of Tamworth Regional Council, representatives from all three tiers of government came together with the people of Barraba and district to mark the occasion.
A ceremonial gold standpipe in Queen St was the focus of attention and umbrellas were hastily found to shelter NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, Nationals Senator John Williams and Tamworth mayor Col Murray as they turned the tap and let the water flow before the flurry of photographers’ flashes.
About 150 people attended the pipeline’s official opening in a marquee in the town’s main street, which was blocked off for the occasion.
Cr Murray spoke of the “great example of what can be achieved when the three tiers of government work together”.
“It was less than three years ago when council, the NSW government and the Australian government came together to fund the pipeline,” Cr Murray said.
“Now there is a 27.2km pipeline capable of bringing four megalitres of water – or more than three Olympic-sized swimming pools – every day to Barraba households and businesses from the dam at Upper Manilla.”
Mr Stoner admitted his theft of 1980s TV show The A-Team’s catchcry when he said: “I love it when a plan comes together.”
The deputy premier said he was aware of Barraba’s water woes even before Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson got in his ear, “nagging” to get funds for the pipeline.
“In the 21st century in one of the most developed countries in the world, it was ridiculous that a regional community like Barraba didn’t have access to secure, high-quality water in sufficient quantity to ensure continued growth of the community,” Mr Stoner said.
“The thing that really pleases me in the way the plan came together is the co-operation of three levels of government – and we even got some spare change, thanks to the good project management of Tamworth Regional Council.”
Representing member for New England Barnaby Joyce was Nationals Senator John Williams, who, before relaying Mr Joyce’s message, graciously acknowledged former New England MP Tony Windsor, “who backed this project all the way through”, and his wife, Lyn. In his letter, Mr Joyce stressed the importance of investing in infrastructure to secure a town’s future prospects and his passion for the treechange concept. “I get very annoyed when I hear complaints about the price of houses in Sydney. If they’re worried about houses being too dear there, they should move out into the country – if people move out to where houses are affordable, industry will move out and jobs and opportunities will be created,” he said in the letter.