Troubled Waters

It was at a luncheon last Friday when one of my guests said “be sure to watch the ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday night.”

pumped.jpgNaturally I asked why and he simply said “water”. So out of respect for my friend, I suppressed my usual concerns about the ABC and tuned in. I am so glad I did.

The program covered some of the irrigation practices in the Barwon-Darling basin and raised a number of questions about the efficacy and conduct of some of the most important players in this space – including government officials.

Some people for whom I have enormous respect raised their concerns by appearing on the program which, in my mind, confirmed there might be a serious problem or at the very least there are questions that need to be answered. We need to find out what the facts are and then turn our mind to fixing whatever has occurred.

There are some who are demanding a Royal Commission into the management of the Murray Darling Basin but I don’t think that’s the best response. It would take years and we need the facts much faster than that.

Others suggest a Federal parliamentary inquiry but the politics involved can sometimes ‘muddy the waters’ (forgive the pun).

It is worth noting that the NSW Government has already proposed a review but that is tantamount to a government investigating themselves. Whatever the result, the suspicion will be that it was compromised from the very beginning.

My Australian Conservatives colleague, Hon. Robert Brokenshire MLC has proposed a much more efficient solution. He has suggested that a retired judicial officer be appointed to conduct a brief but thorough independent inquiry to report back within 30 days. This would get the facts on the table quickly and depending on the findings, it would guide future actions.

Those actions could include a Council of Australian Governments meeting and if necessary a referral to corruption watchdogs like ICAC. 

This process is absolutely vital to ensure the integrity of the inquiry and the integrity of the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin agreement.

As a South Australian, being at the tail end of the river system, it is very easy to blame all our water woes on others. I have always tried not to do that whilst also acknowledging that the SA irrigators are some of the most efficient in the country. They have invested in infrastructure and implement best practice to keep them in the game when water allocations are under pressure.

I also understand why those upstream don’t want to disadvantage themselves. There are people in all the Basin states very unhappy about the allegations in the program. We all have an interest in ensuring the continuing viability of the waterway that enables the nation’s food-producing engine.

Reactions

  • commented 2017-08-02 16:53:21 +0930
    Cody I know this won’t be appreciated by South Austrslians but as bad as the behaviour of some irrigators in the upper Darling the main problem lies in South Australia. South Australia is draining the water from the South East that used to make it’s way into the Coorong. That water is now being drained into the Sea. The Murray Darling Basin Commission now has a fool hardy scheme to pump Murray water into the Coorong. The Murray has never naturally flowed into The Coorong. The water that is going in there now is being channelled in from the North when The Coorong was always filled from The South East. South Australia should look at removing the drains in the South East and the barrages so that The Coorong becomes an estuary again as it once was.
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  • commented 2017-07-30 15:06:34 +0930
    It is my belief that, as iours is a very dry countrhy, we should not be growing cotton here in Australia. The problem being that cotton is a very water intensive crop and the cotton growers syphon off more than their fair share of the water before it can be of any benefit to the surrounding countryside. It also reduces the amount of water available to the irrigators in Australia’s food bowl areas, where of course they farm edible crops for human consumption. Cotton is not very digestable but we do need the food
  • commented 2017-07-30 15:06:34 +0930
    It is my belief that, as iours is a very dry countrhy, we should not be growing cotton here in Australia. The problem being that cotton is a very water intensive crop and the cotton growers syphon off more than their fair share of the water before it can be of any benefit to the surrounding countryside. It also reduces the amount of water available to the irrigators in Australia’s food bowl areas, where of course they farm edible crops for human consumption. Cotton is not very digestable but we do need the food
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  • commented 2017-07-27 16:07:07 +0930
    Or, you could poach the ALA candidate Ron Pike who is an engineer who was campaigning on fixing the murray-darling! (Warning: he’s an engineer, so allow for Dilbert levels of social cluelessness, but he seems to know his stuff, and that’s what you want an engineer for).
  • followed this page 2017-07-27 15:25:33 +0930
  • commented 2017-07-27 12:06:32 +0930
    Hi Cory

    How does this sound?

    " In the interest of both clarity and efficacy and to ensure the continuing viability of the waterway that enables the nation’s food bowl to function at an optimal level, we the undersigned respectfully request the appointment of a judicial officer to conduct a brief but thorough independent enquiry into allegations that have currently come to light surrounding the validity of the Murray Darling Basin Agreement, and to report back in 30 days with information that would guide future actions."

    Do you think we could get 14,000 signatures :)

    I will be the first to sign….. this should have happened years ago.
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  • commented 2017-07-26 22:31:50 +0930
    OK just spotted a typo in my own post. Where’s the edit button? lol.
    Any enquiry will face the twin problems that there is just is not enough water to supply both productive farms and things like environmental flows that many farmers see as unproductive waste.
  • commented 2017-07-26 22:12:05 +0930
    Water billing is only as good as the water measurement technology and I am sure that the people involved will say the technologies unreliable leading to the dispute. What we really need is new water technologies in measurement and to reduce losses in the canals, and technologies that get more water into the system as a whole. I’ve been looking at farm air well technologies. A small solution relative to the problem but a very big solution for some farms. Any enquiry will face the twin problems that the just is not enough water to supply both productive farms and things like environmental flows that many farmers see as unproductive waste. We need to find ways to make those environmental uses pay their way too.
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  • commented 2017-07-26 19:45:29 +0930
    Send all involved in this blatant ripoff of public water and money to a compulsive holiday with Eddie O’greed and Sir Lunchalot.
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