Murray-Darling Basin scam
I am one of many who have been putting forward community and farmer concerns regarding this incredibly deeply-flawed Murray-Darling Basin Plan right from the start.
It has been politicised and shockingly altered all the way through.
We have seen whole irrigation districts closed down and communities altered forever.
Now that would not be so bad if these effects were felt in all parts of the MurrayDarling Basin.
At the moment, the Murray River is running unseasonably high, Dartmouth Dam is at 78 per cent, yet some farmers who rely on the Murray for irrigation water are at zero per cent allocation.
The Mulwala canal is being used to divert water around the Barmah choke. But wait, there’s more. The Lower Darling River has been shut down and a pipeline has been built from Wentworth to Broken Hill and the Murray is being relied on yet again.
What happens to all the people reliant on the Darling River in its lower reaches? They have been sacrificed.
A shocking amount of water is being diverted from the upper reaches of the Darling and this simply cannot be sustained.
Lastly, the lower lakes in South Australia must be addressed as they take thousands of gigalitres each year to keep them artificially fresh. Plenty of people have solutions yet they are not being listened to.
There is an enormous disconnect between rural Australians and the major political parties and that is why independents are winning more and more seats.
We are six years on from the start of this ill-conceived plan and it had been brutalised, bastardised and shockingly altered by narrow-minded politicians and bureaucrats.
Things needs to change
Before long politicians and their staff — along with many public servants — who are charged with policy decisions and implementation, will take their Christmas break.
Some might take a bit of extra time this year, with Christmas Day and New Year’s Day on a Tuesday, making it easy to take a couple of flexi days and extend the break.
They will also have their holiday in comfort, knowing their job and secure income will be waiting for their return.
Unfortunately, the decisions they make can have a vastly different impact on their fellow Australians.
Take those who work for SunRice, in the Riverina, for example. It has announced 100 job losses as it restructures to cope with one of the lowest summer crops in history.
Meanwhile, in other parts of southern NSW and northern Victoria, dairy farmers are culling herds and walking off farms.
This is all happening because our decisionmakers insist no allocation of water should be given to southern NSW food and fibre producers, while those in Victoria are faced with exorbitant water prices.
At the same time, the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers are running high — the Murray above capacity, forcing desperate farmers to watch nearby forests flood, while their nearby paddocks turn to dust.
In fact, roughly 200 000 Ml, 40 per cent of Sydney Harbour, has unintentionally spilled into the forests because the river is not being operated efficiently.
Due to outdated rules which haven’t been updated despite significant changes in recent years to water delivery, these river losses come out of the food-producing bucket.
That’s food that could be grown to support all Australians, regardless of where you live.
This is devastating for farmers who want grow the produce needed by our nation and the rest of the world.
As a consequence we are now dealing with a whole range of associated issues, including increased mental health, severe financial stress and, in some cases, bankruptcy.
This is all being caused because the politicians and bureaucrats in charge of water policy development and implementation are refusing to listen to those who live and breathe their local environment, nor will they ‘come to the table’ and work on effective solutions that ensure there is plenty of water for the environment, food production and South Australia.
Even in times of drought we can all survive if we get the balance right; at present it’s not.
I call on the Water Minister David Littleproud, a country guy from Chinchilla, who I am sure knows the devastation caused by the loss of 100 jobs in a small town, to step up and provide some protection to our rural communities.
It can be as simple as demanding his staff — before they go on holidays — work on rule changes to return the wasted 200 000 Ml to farm production.
We’re a long way from Chincilla, but we feel the pain of unnecessary lost jobs in the same way.