Franklin Dam Controversy

Franklin Dam Controversy

The Franklin Dam or Gordon-below-Franklin Dam project was a proposed dam on the Gordon River in Tasmania, Australia, that was never constructed. The movement that eventually led to the project's cancellation became one of most significant environmental campaigns in Australian history.

The dam was proposed for the purpose of generating hydroelectricity. The resulting new electricity generation capacity would have been 180 MW. This would have subsequently impacted upon the environmentally sensitive Franklin River, which joins the Gordon nearby. During the campaign against the dam, both areas were World Heritage listed.

The campaign that followed led to the consolidation of the small green movement that had been born out of the non-violent protest campaign against the building of three dams on Lake Pedder in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Over the five years between the announcement of the dam proposal in 1978 and the axing of the plans in 1983, there was vigorous debate between the pro- and anti-dam lobbies, with large protests from both sides.

In December 1982, the dam site was occupied by protesters, leading to widespread arrests and greater publicity. The dispute became a federal issue the following March, when a campaign in the national print media, assisted by the pictures of photographer Peter Dombrovskis, helped bring down the government of Malcolm Fraser at the 1983 election. The new government, under Bob Hawke, had promised to stop the dam from being built. A legal battle between the federal government and Tasmanian state government followed, resulting in a landmark High Court ruling in the federal government's favour.

Read more about Franklin Dam Controversy:  Original HEC Plans, Announcement of The Plans, Attempts At Compromise, Inquiry, Referendum, and Tasmanian State Election, The Campaign Broadens, Blockade, Resolution, Postscript

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