Central Highlands Regional Council Official Opening of East Nogoa Water Treatment Plant
Thank you Councillor Nixon. I too acknowledge the Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor, Councillors and Council staff; other elected representatives; and community members.
I thank the Council for its invitation to today’s important event, which also gave me an excellent reason to get out into regional Queensland again. Kaye and I are delighted to be in Emerald.
I should not, I suppose, be heard to say “it is good to be out of Brisbane”! Our home city is a wonderful metropolis. But the relevant observation plainly is – “it is good to be in Queensland”. And as a Governor who is very proud of his albeit short-term association with the Central West, I am now I think allowed to say – it is great to be in Emerald!
As is abundantly clear from our surroundings, today is all about water, a subject on which I am fast becoming a knowledgeable amateur.
The first piece of major infrastructure I opened as Governor was a water recycling facility in Sarina, and today I find myself opening another piece of important water infrastructure.
On a more sombre note, a focus on water inevitably reminds us of the dire effects of the current drought on many communities in regional Queensland. Let us keep them in our thoughts.
But for today, all I really need to know about water is this paradox: water is essential for life but, untreated, it also has the potential to be deadly.
We are fortunate to be living at a time and in a place where we can assume that clean, safe water will issue from our taps.
This was made possible by decades of effort by medical professionals, engineers and public health agencies in many countries more than a century ago.
Yet very few have monuments to their work. One exception is Dr John Snow, a British physician. In 1854, during a cholera epidemic in London that killed 11,000 people, Dr Snow pointed out a link between tainted water from a public water pump and the incidence of cholera in the neighbourhood.
His findings were dismissed by many at the time.
However, the link was eventually accepted, bringing about a revolution in the treatment of reticulated water supplies and one of the greatest ever contributions to public health.
And lest we think that London in 1854 was long ago and far away, health records for Brisbane show that, as late as 1902, nearly 200 typhoid cases and several resulting deaths were still being reported.
We have good reason to be grateful to the pioneers who all but eliminated the risk of serious water-borne diseases in our water supplies.
We have equally good reason to be grateful to the local governments around Australia who continue to ensure that the water supplied to their communities is clean and safe.
And I use today to thank our local governments for their wonderful work, attentive with great dedication – 7 days 24 hours – to their citizens. After even only 9 months as your Governor, I am acutely alive to the commitment of those really wonderful Queenslanders.
Councillors and council staff here today will know that water supply is a function that does not attract much attention except when supplies are interrupted by events such as natural disasters.
It is then, perhaps, that communities again assume a better appreciation of the effort needed to maintain a safe water supply.
At thirty-three million dollars, the East Nogoa Water Treatment Plant represents a substantial investment in a safe water supply for Emerald, in community infrastructure and public health.
It is, at the same time, an investment in the liveability, prosperity, and sustainability of Emerald now, and well into the future.
The completion of this impressive plant and its imminent handover to the Council are, I am sure, a source of great pride for all those involved.
I thank and congratulate the lead contractor, Monadelphous, and all those who have worked on the project. I was particularly gratified to learn of the substantial involvement of more than forty local businesses, in suppling goods and services during construction.
I thank and congratulate the Central Highlands Regional Council for commissioning the new plant. I make special mention of the council engineers and other public health staff for their commitment to the supply of safe water to their community.
It gives me very great pleasure to now declare the East Nogoa Water Treatment Plant officially open and unveil this commemorative plaque.