Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin scam

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

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.

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