Southern Riverina news

Great project, but be warned


I read with interest that a business case has been completed for the Hughenden Irrigation Project, in the Flinders region of North-West Queensland.

It suggests the proposed scheme will generate $776.6 million in benefits and over 1900 agricultur­al jobs, and will “transform Hughenden and the Flinders Shire communitie­s into a diverse, future-proofed and resilient agricultur­al and economic powerhouse”.

I come with a warning to all those who think this may be an agricultur­al and economic panacea for that region.

More than seven decades past, there were likewise grand plans for agricultur­al and economic prosperity across South-West NSW with the constructi­on of the Snowy Hydro project, Hume Dam and a magnificen­t irrigation scheme that would drought-proof and revitalise this land for national benefit.

Then, in more recent times, we had the Millennium Drought, which presented our South Australian neighbours with a unique opportunit­y to seek increased volumes of this stored water, primarily for their domestic and recreation­al use.

Of course, suggesting the water would be for such uses would not pass the ‘pub test’, so instead they promoted the need for ‘environmen­tal flows’.

The politician­s saw a potential vote-winner, the scientific community saw a unique opportunit­y to get billions in funding, and before you could say ‘let’s hang our irrigators out to dry’ the media was conned and the scene was set.

Now, instead of using water to grow the food and fibre that we all need, we provide water in abundance to keep South Australia’s lower lakes at a prime level for recreation activities, we make it available for SA’s expanding canal frontage housing, we keep the lawns across Adelaide and other parts of SA in lovely green condition and we pour what’s left out to sea.

The communitie­s which have relied on agricultur­al prosperity since the irrigation scheme was establishe­d become the collateral damage, but who cares?

Not the politician­s, because they have a vote winner.

Not the scientists, because they have their slice of $13 billion.

Not the South Australian­s, because they have water in abundance.

And certainly not the media, because they have yet another left-wing agenda to promote. I am pleased to see the optimism that surrounds the proposed Hughenden Irrigation Project.

However, be warned ... despite all the facts, all the evidence and all the prosperity, you, like us, will ultimately be destroyed if there are third parties with different personal agendas. — Alan Thwaites Finley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia