Lake Pedder was to be flooded to produce less than 60 megawatts of power. (A megawatt is a unit of power, like horsepower: to put this in context, the LaTrobe Valley’s output is some 7,000 megawatts.)
The water which drowned Lake Pedder cannot be used to generate power, but is simply a watery platform which enables the small volume of inflowing water to be pushed across to the Gordon Dam to generate an amount of power which Tasmania has never needed.
Those who argued that this priceless gem should be saved were ridiculed – and worse. On 8th September 1972 Brenda Hean and Max Price set off in a light aircraft on a highly publicised trip from Tasmania to Canberra to lobby federal politicians to save Lake Pedder.
They were never seen again. Evidence emerged that the plane’s hangar was broken into the night before the flight, and it is believed their plane was sabotaged.
The dam was illegal, according to the Tasmanian Attorney-General of the day, Mervyn Everett, who authorised a legal challenge (by giving the Attorney-General's "fiat" to enable the case to be litigated) and refused to withdraw it when cabinet pressured him to do so.
As a result the Premier, Eric Reece, who was not a lawyer at all, sacked Everett, and appointed himself Attorney-General. He cancelled the legal challenge and pushed what he called “doubts removal” legislation through parliament.
Finally, the floods rose over Lake Pedder covering its wonderful beaches under 90 feet of water.
It would not be difficult to restore Lake Pedder. The beaches are still there. It can be done without losing any vital power supplies. All that is missing is political will. It would be a wonderful symbol of restoration of our nation's damaged relationship with the environment to see Pedder drained and rehabilitated. I want to see this in my lifetime.