In 1982, Robin Gray was Premier of Tasmania. Although towards the conservative end of the political spectrum, he was swept into office when many of those who traditionally voted for the Labor Party backed him because of his pro-employment policies. One method of creating jobs was through the building of hydro-electric plants. These schemes saw dams built on Tasmanian rivers to harness them for the generation of electricity.
A particular scheme called for the damming of the Gordon River down from where it merged with the Franklin River, hence the name "Gordon below Franklin hydro-electric power scheme". The problem was that the area being dammed had been listed by the World Heritage Commission at the behest of the commonwealth government that very year, due to the 'wilderness value' of the region.
Many protests at the scene of the proposed dam ensued, drawing national and international media attention. Eventually, Prime Minister Bob Hawke used the commonwealth government's external affairs powers to stop the dam, and Tasmania was paid several million dollars in compensation. Robin Gray gained the scorn of conservationists, but the praise of those who felt he had stood up against the commonwealth government in favour of state's rights.
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Last reviewed 2006-08-06 12:44:23