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Vision meets Vandalism. The Snowy River Scheme and the Wonthaggi Desal Plant


In the early 1970s my mates and I watched in awe as Brother Paul spooled up the black and white movietone films about the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

In 5th class we had a 3 day trip to the Snowy - and I can remember pretty much every detail of the massive pipes, the tunnels cut through the mountains and the vast lakes behind perfectly engineered dams.

Mates of mine have owned old timber houses at Talbingo -  where the hardy and proud family men who built the Snowy Scheme lived.   People came from all over the world to make something great - and that's precisely the legacy they left us.  

People of vision and drive and pride in what they did.   As I sit here this morning reading a research paper on the Snowy Scheme it's hard not to be emotional about the sheer, utter waste and greed that's driving our governments now.

This paper on the history of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and the rivers - and laws - associated with it is a great read.

But what overwhelming sadness for me in looking at what an NPV of $7BN (2002 value) used to buy - when money and labour were respected and well managed without the help of Mick Gatto and friends.

Snowy scheme

Compare and contrast - and wonder why we don't build great things, why they seem to cost so much, and wonder to yourself, where does the money go?   All those billions walking off the site in the stuffed pockets of a chosen few.   The desal plant takes up a few paddocks - compare it to the wonder of the Snowy Scheme!

Desal plant

Desal plant one
Desal plant two

And within the 190 pages of the special Enterprise Bargain negotiated just to take advantage of a supplicant and compromised Labor government and bureaucracy - for whom do you think the highest levels of pay have been reserved?   The builders, the engineers, the tradesmen and, no, no.   You don't understand where value is created today.

Desal plant union reps