Time to stop playing political games
Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt’s announcement earlier this month that the Federal Government was ruling out buying water entitlements from farmers to meet water-saving targets set by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is not as certain as reported.
As we have all come to realise with every upside there is always a catch— the catch is there are no legislative guidelines in place to ensure these promises and the adjustment mechanisms they hope to replace the buyback water is a false positive.
Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley advised representatives that the promise of no further water buybacks would take place through regulation.
Our investigations have concluded that the only way a regulation can be used is to first have an amendment to the legislative act.
The Coalition’s plan is to recover the remaining volume of water required under the basin plan through infrastructure programs like the Sustainable Diversion Limits Adjustment Mechanism projects.
Some projects which have recently been given the green light will actually result in running creeks and rivers at capacity.
Delivering water to lands which have been recently developed outside of traditional irrigation areas by mostly large corporations into permanent plantings.
Meanwhile fourth and fifth generation family farmers watch socalled environmental water flowing past.
However, some of this ‘‘environmental water’’ will be rebadged and sold as supplementary flows (this is not well reported by government or the Murray-Darling Basin Authority).
While this may benefit those who had the amazing insight to build massive governmentsubsidised dams to harvest the water once it becomes supplementary, many family farmers continue to miss out.
One has to ask: who are the main beneficiaries of these efficiency projects and at whose expense?
Small creeks which are to be ‘‘re-engineered’’ water savings projects are referred to as effluent creeks by bureaucrats and considered inefficient due to water losses (these creeks are often a high source of groundwater replenishment).
When Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley was questioned about the ecological health of these areas and the impacts of cutting off or reversing creek water supply, she said the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder would supply additional water to maintain creek health.
Does that not contradict the original purpose of an efficiency saving project?
All we seem to get is political game-playing and a bureaucracy that does not understand effective water management.
Meanwhile, the family farmer and rivers continue to pay the price.
— Paul Pierotti Murrumbidgee Industry and Agriculture Communities