“Guide to the proposed Basin Plan”
Cook's Comment throughout this report is printed in BOLD type.
On the 12th October 2010 I attended the first launch by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority Executive of the “Guide to the proposed Basin Plan” (Overview Volume 1) at the Goulburn Valley Hotel, Shepparton.
There was accommodation for around 600 people and it was “standing room only” for the first session. Later that day another session saw around 400 people present.
The presentation was fairly orderly but heated up considerably during question time when it was apparent the effects of the changes would be massive for the people living in the Basin and wider community.
The Chairman kept referring to the Water Act 2007, which he waved about and saying “what we are about is all here in the Act and legislated by the Commonwealth Parliament”.
It was obvious the Act gave authority to perform their work and so from my point of view it was bad legislation.
I think the major objectors were only looking at the ramifications of the plans directly affecting them so were looking for some compromise on the proposals.
In no way were indications given of where the government will find the $10.5B to be spent on the scheme over the next ten years and if previous performance of government spending is any indication then $10.5B could be the tip of the proverbial iceberg… once a project is started then it must be finished regardless of the cost in manpower, materials, and money… a bit like involvement in a war!
The next day I headed straight to the library Internet Service to download a copy of the Water Act 2007 and anything else that might be relevant, particularly how it all came into being.
My first find was a COAG meeting in 2004 chaired by the Prime Minister of the day, Paul Keating, and this was building on some earlier work for a “National Plan for Water Security”.
Another former Prime Minister, John Howard, later pushed this further with the launch of “A National Plan for Water Security” or “The New Water Initiative” (NWI) with an address on the 25th January 2007.
Examination shows it to be a blatant grab for power by the Commonwealth through coercive argument to have the States hand over their powers of water management as set out in Section 100 of the Australian Constitution. (See page 10)
The State of Victoria resisted so other avenues, or should I say, mischievously interpreted, sections of The Constitution were used to circumvent Victoria.
(These will also be found on page 10)
Another find was reference to a meeting in Melbourne at Southbank on the 7th / 8th October 2003 of the “The International Year of Freshwater (2003)”.
This was held in support of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which calls on member states:
“To stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources by developing water management strategies at the regional, national and local levels, which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies”. Koffi Annan Secretary General, United Nations. Excerpt from the International Year of Freshwater Official Message.
There was an interesting list of invited speakers and attendees:
The Hon. Mrs. Elaine Carbines MP
The Hon. Dr Sharman Stone MP
Mr. Tim Fisher, well known for his connection to the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The Hon. Dr Barry Jones, AO.
One of the “Facilitators of Workshops” listed was Mr. Stephen Mills, Chairman, Australian National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage and Director of Murray-Goulburn Co-op.
It will be interesting to see if “international obligations” are one of the driving forces with the MDBA plan.
Another report that should be read is the:
The Senate “Standing Committee of Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts” examined the Water Bill 2007 [Provisions] and Water (Consequential Amendments] Bill 2007 [Provisions]
It makes interesting reading and I quote from the opening of the report.
Referral to the committee
1.1 On 9 August 2007, the Senate referred the Water Bill 2007 (hereafter ’the bill’) and the Water (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2007 to the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (ECITA) Committee for inquiry and report by 14 August 2007.
1.2 The committee directly contacted a number of relevant organisations and individuals to invite submissions by 10 August 2007. Due to the tight reporting timeframe it was not possible to advertise the inquiry in the press.
1.3 Submissions were received from 12 organisations and individuals, as listed in Appendix 1. The committee also held a public hearing in Canberra on Friday, 10 August 2007.
A list of those who gave evidence at this hearing is at Appendix 2.
It is not possible in this essay to examine every aspect deserving attention but sufficient will be provided to show the intent of the legislation.
Background – water policy initiatives
1.5 Under the Constitution, the management of water resources in Australia is a state responsibility.
1 By virtue of section 107 of the Constitution, and the fact that section 51 of the Constitution does not grant the Commonwealth express power over water or river systems.
No mention of section 100 of The Constitution giving the State unambiguous rights to its water. Sections of The Constitution referred to will be given at the end of this article.
1.14 Water availability to irrigators in the MDB is also declining because of climate change and the unregulated growth in farm dams, bores, and reafforestation. These changes have eroded the security of water entitlements, making it harder for irrigators to manage their enterprises in times of drought.8
“Climate change” is a subjective issue and it now appears “on farm water conservation and tree planting” are bad.
1.15 The Commonwealth government announced it would invest up to $3 billion over ten years to address over-allocation in the MDB. Planned in conjunction with the modernisation programme, this is to be achieved by providing assistance to irrigation districts to reconfigure irrigation systems and retire non-viable areas.
“retire non-viable areas”? As I understand it. non-viable areas has more to do with financial management.
The poor management of finance leading to “out of control inflation” is in the realm of Treasury and the Reserve Bank, not water users.
New governance arrangements in the MDB
1.17 The Commonwealth suggested that new governance arrangements are needed to improve water management in the MDB:
Existing arrangements centering on the MDB Agreement and the MDB Ministerial Council are unwieldy and not capable of yielding the best possible Basin-wide outcomes. One government needs to take control and be responsible for water management in the MDB to ensure key Basin-wide outcomes are realised.10
1.19 Under the Plan, the Commonwealth government aims to reconstitute the MDBC as a Commonwealth government agency reporting to a single minister. The new Commission would have responsibility for setting a sustainable cap on the extraction of surface and ground water within the Basin, and accrediting catchment and aquifer water plans to ensure they comply with that cap.
The new arrangements were expected to cost an additional $600 million over ten years.
Here we see a naked bid from the Commonwealth to centralize more Power through this water plan when co-operation with the States should be considered.
1.21 These arrangements were contingent on the referral of state and territory powers in relation to the MDBC to enable the Commonwealth government to have oversight of water management in the MDB. The governments of NSW, Queensland, and South Australia agreed to the transfer of powers. Victoria, however, did not. (My emphasis) Subsequently, the Commonwealth announced its intention to use Commonwealth powers under the Constitution to introduce a revised Plan, including the establishment of a Murray-Darling Basin Authority, which is discussed later in the chapter.
Once again we see a State upholding its rights under The Constitution… it would have been nice if Victoria had demanded a National Referendum and give the Australian people a say but I daresay it would not have gone that far.
The Water Bill 2007 and related bill
1.30 The Water Bill 2007 (the bill) gives effect to a number of key elements of the Commonwealth government’s $10.05 Billion National Plan for Water Security, announced by the Prime Minister on 25 January 2007.
The bill relies solely on the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers, which is discussed later in the chapter.19
The bill has been informed by the Intergovernmental Agreement on a National Water Initiative.
The Water Bill – constitutional basis
1.54 In his second reading speech the Minister for Environment and Water
Resources, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, outlined the constitutional basis for the bill: This Water Bill relies on a range of powers, which are provided to the Commonwealth under the Constitution.
These comprise powers in relation to external affairs, interstate trade and commerce, corporations and powers to collect information and statistics.31
1.55 Mr Turnbull explained that as agreement had not been reached on a referral of power from the state governments, the original ’comprehensive’ water bill had been modified to fit within the Commonwealth’s existing constitutional powers: The Water Bill 2007 bill draws heavily on the comprehensive water bill that had been negotiated with most states in the basin over the past five months. The new bill reflects these negotiations in relation to the parts of the comprehensive bill for which the Commonwealth has constitutional power. Thus, a referral of powers from the states is not required for this bill, as was proposed for the comprehensive water bill.32
1.58 The constitutional basis for the bill can be broadly divided into two categories:
water resource management; and water monitoring and data collection. In relation to the management of basin water resources (including the development of the Basin Plan, the water resource plans, and following five constitutional powers are relied on:
trade and commerce paragraph 51(i);
postal, telegraphic, telephonic and other like services paragraph 51(v);
corporations paragraph 51(xx);
external affairs paragraph 51(xxix);
territories power section 122.
From the foregoing you can see how devious politicians aided and abetted by bureaucrats are working to subvert the intended meaning of The Australian Constitution as originally drafted.
Issues with the bill
2.7 The majority of debate about the bill concerned the allocation of responsibility for compensation if water availability is reduced; and other costs to the states.
Compensation for reductions in water availability
2.8 The bill makes provision for the allocation of responsibility for compensation to water entitlement holders in the event of reductions in water availability (see clauses 74 to 79 of the bill). The Basin Plan will set:
…limits on the amount of water that can be taken from Basin water resources on a sustainable basis… known as long-term average sustainable diversion limits. These limits will be set for Basin water resources as a whole and for individual water resources.10
2.9 It is possible that the long-term average sustainable diversion limit for water resources in water resource plan areas will need to be reduced. In these circumstances, water entitlement holders will experience a reduction in their entitlement. In these circumstances, the entitlement holder may receive some compensation for this reduction. Clause 77 sets out the way in which liability for that compensation will be distributed.
“the entitlement holder may receive some compensation for this reduction”… the operative word here is “MAY” and they may NOT!
2.21 The Victorian government argued that the Commonwealth plan created complex governance arrangements and increased ’red tape’; lacked clarity with respect to how and where funding would be allocated; failed to provide detail on the role and importance of water markets, and placed at risk the NWI commitment to the expansion of water markets.20 The Victorian government argued that the Commonwealth’s proposal for water management in the MDB, in particular, was ’under-developed and carries significant risks for ongoing water management’.21
2.22 The Victorian government indicated it preferred a model involving implementation through an intergovernmental agreement, rather than a referral of constitutional powers.
2.23 During this inquiry Mr Peter Harris, representing the Victorian government, explained the basis for the rejection of a transfer of powers: Victoria has rejected complete transfer of powers to the Commonwealth over our water sources because we have a very reliable water allocation system. Victoria’s irrigators and environmental groups agreed with the government that the certainty with which we had endowed their entitlements in negotiations over water reform between 2002 and 2004 was to be preferred to an unknown system of Commonwealth control. The Victorian water allocation system is a reflection of Victoria’s agriculture and relatively dense urban concentration within the basin.22
2.24 The Victorian government also raised particular concerns with the current bill. These included:
• Clause 35, being a new provision purporting to enable the Commonwealth minister to prosecute individual farmers for acting inconsistently with the Basin Plan.
’This seems to us to be complete overkill’.
• Clause 172, duplicating the objectives of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the Murray-Darling Basin Commission.
• Clauses 97 to 100, which are new and purport to allow the Commonwealth minister to unilaterally change trading rules within the Basin. ’Trading rules are crucial to investment decisions. To my knowledge, in no other market in Australia can the federal minister alter the terms of trading in this way’.
• The use of the treaties power of the constitution, of which Victoria remarked ’there are some quite unique definitional approaches in this legislation’.23
Now we are seeing the “sharp teeth” in the Legislation and “you vill obey”!
Additional comments by Labor Senators
Labor has consistently supported greater national leadership in water policy and water reform. In fact, national water reform began with the historic COAG Agreement in 1992 led by the Keating Labor Government and the Murray Darling Basin Act 1992.
Labor believes the water reform process must be led by the national Government and be ongoing so we properly fix the over-allocation of water licences in the Murray Darling Basin, ensure harmony between the environment and consumptive use, and help address the impact of drought and climate change on water supply.
Now you begin to see the “pedigree of ideas” so openly embraced by all members of the parliament.
For people concerned with the direction this Nation is being led then I submit it is sufficient reason to place all the sitting members last, next time YOU VOTE.
And from the Greens….
Minority Report from the Australian Greens
Senator Rachel Siewert
The agreement of the National Water Initiative in 2004 represented a major conceptual step in characterising both the nature of the problem and the kinds of steps that needed to be taken. This conceptual leap was not however matched by the necessary progress in reforming water management, and Basin governance continued to be dominated by parochial interests and held back by state veto powers.
The good Senator also quoted Prof. Cullen for the Wentworth Group and it is worth repeating because Prof. Cullen is so often quoted as an expert on Murray-Darling Basin issues.
Prof. Cullen. Australian aquatic ecosystems and terrestrial ecosystems are adapted to drought. Therefore, they have the capacity to bounce back from a drought. We term that ecological resilience as the ability to recover. What seems to me important as we go into this uncertainty is to try to understand what are the critical factors that allow those systems to recover and make sure we do not inadvertently lose them. The obvious example is that fish hang on in waterholes. Even when the river has ceased to flow you have still got waterholes and fish can hang on in there and then recolonise. We obviously see this in the Lake Eyre Basin where some of the waterholes hold fish that have measured at 18 years old. They hang on and they can breed. There are a whole lot of other, what we call, refuges by which animals and organisms hang on and then recolonise. That is the first point, understanding what those refuges are and making sure we protect them so the system can bounce back. The second thing is trying to understand these thresholds. How frequently do we need to get water on the floodplain for the trees, into the wetlands for the wetlands, for the waterbirds and for fish? I am trying to get some of the science now marshalled to let us know what existing knowledge tells us bout those various thresholds. We then start to rethink some of the thinking. In the past it has been the view that in a wet period you could harvest as much water as you wanted for irrigation and in a dry period we would fight over it between irrigators and the environment. When you start thinking this way and you look at, say, the red gum story, it may well be that after a run of dry years and you do get some water, what is important is that the high flow gets out onto the floodplain for the environment. Rethinking a bit about when it is reasonable to harvest floodplains and when we should not be doing that seems to me to be part of living with that drying environmental side of it. I think that is where some of the science is taking us, the idea of maintaining the resilience, understanding its thresholds and then letting that feed into the management of our water so that the environment gets its share when it really needs it.14
It appears the good professor is still learning and not too sure of his science.
It is worth noting that under these circumstances much of this water is not consumed or wasted by the ecosystems in question, but rather becomes available to other users downstream, including irrigators, urban users and other ecosystems.
It does raise the question “how do you waste water?”
There is much else in the Senate Report including a nasty suggestion than compensation paid to water users will be taxable.
The following is from the Howard Government’s Plan announced by the Prime Minister on the 25th January 2007… fancy this for an Australia Day address!
“A National Plan for Water Security”
The drought which now grips large parts of Australia is the most severe since
It has taken a drastic toll on the lives and livelihoods of many Australians.
Whether in the city or in the bush, communities are understandably anxious about water, concerned about getting through our present difficulties, and worried about what the future might hold.
In the face of this protracted drought and the prospect of long-term climate change we need a radical and permanent change in our water management practices.
That is why I am proposing a $10 billion, 10-point plan to improve water
efficiency and address over-allocation of water in rural Australia.
The Plan includes:
1. a nationwide investment in Australia’s irrigation infrastructure to line and
pipe major delivery channels;
2. a nationwide programme to improve on-farm irrigation technology and
3. the sharing of water savings on a 50:50 basis between irrigators and the
Commonwealth Government leading to greater water security and increased
4. addressing once and for all water over-allocation in the Murray-Darling
5. a new set of governance arrangements for the Murray-Darling Basin;
6. a sustainable cap on surface and groundwater use in the Murray-Darling
7. major engineering works at key sites in the Murray-Darling Basin such as the
Barmah Choke and Menindee Lakes;
8. expanding the role of the Bureau of Meteorology to provide the water data
necessary for good decision making by governments and industry;
9. a Taskforce to explore future land and water development in northern
10. completion of the restoration of the Great Artesian Basin.
Water users in the Northern Victorian Murray Valley should not be too pleased with item 7. The Barmah Choke is a natural asset helping to restrict even more water being taken from the upper reaches of the Murray and which adds to the viability of Shires upstream of Barmah.
One of the key questions that should be asked is “Where will the money come from to fund this vast undertaking?”
It will all come from taxation in one form or another?
And who pays the tax? YOU my dear Reader!
I will only highlight sections where the water user is expected to pay just in case you think it will all be funded from taxation alone.
Improving delivery system efficiency
The Commonwealth Government will work with irrigation water providers to lift the delivery efficiency of distribution systems from the current average of 75 per cent to a new benchmark of 90 per cent. Funding of $70 million will be provided to conduct an assessment to identify the ‘hot-spots’ where losses occur, and enable targeting of works.
This will be followed by a $3 billion works programme, comprising piping, channel lining, and system automation, estimated to save up to 1,500 GL per year.
Irrigators will need to contribute an additional $750 million to this programme to share 50 per cent of the total water savings achieved. This programme will require the reconfiguration of irrigation systems and the retirement of unviable parts of irrigation schemes. The Plan provides structural adjustment assistance in support of this objective.
More accurate metering and monitoring
Mandatory national metering standards for in-field accuracy of ± 5 per cent will be introduced so that water diverted for irrigation more accurately matches entitlements.
Around 700 GL can be saved by improving the accuracy of meters and reducing over use. The Commonwealth Government will provide $125 million to upgrade bulk off-takes, and $225 million to upgrade farm off-takes to meet national metering standards.
Irrigators will be required to contribute half the cost of farm off-takes, and will benefit from remote control, higher flow rates, and the ability to apply water more precisely to crops. The Commonwealth Government will invest $200 million in telemetry and data systems to allow remote reading of meters and real-time data for better monitoring of flow-based water extractions. The Commonwealth Government will also provide $50 million to cover half the cost of introducing metering for stock and domestic users in priority catchments.
You can see from the foregoing that water users will be committed to costs not of their own undertaking and no doubt “ability to pay” will not be in the equation.
NEW INVESTMENTS IN WATER INFORMATION
You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Nor can you TAX what your can’t measure but the government will try.
The Commonwealth Government will require all water data collecting agencies (public and private) to:
• maintain a specified standard and level of monitoring and metering, to be
negotiated with the Bureau;
• share all of their existing water data assets with the Bureau and transfer all new
data to the Bureau as it is collected;
• commit to the principle of a single national water information system
(incorporating a national water account), to be managed by the Bureau;
• contribute some of the cost of modernising and extending their measurement
networks, to be negotiated with the Bureau; and
• meet the full cost of maintaining their measurement systems, including periodic
calibration costs, and system modernisation costs beyond 2012.
I wonder if farm incomes can be indexed to inflation so that farmers can have some hope of meeting these new financial obligations thrust upon them? Sure, and pigs might fly!
This is only a small portion of the proposals about to be foisted upon water users in the Murray-Darling Basin by Commonwealth and State Governments to be administered by a vast bureaucracy.
None of the proposals listed here will make one iota of difference to the prosperity of farmers in the region.
Inflation will continue to erode incomes and farmers will be driven to despair as they seek to milk more cows and grow bigger crops but with little increase in disposable income as they are regulated as never before.
All of this is because of legislation passed in our elected Parliaments… every politician had the chance to vote for or against these bad laws and it appears most were in favour and that is sufficient to place every sitting member last next time you vote.
The Water Act 2007 has shown that the Liberal Party, National Party, Labour Party, and the Greens are tarred with the same brush…all are socialist and willing to surrender our rights and freedoms as enshrined in The Australian Constitution.
Voters must stop them now in their tracks with an action plan of
Tomorrow may be too late!
I commend the article at the end for your consideration.
Sections of The Australian Constitution quoted in the foregoing.
Section 100 is quite clear regarding States’ right to water.
It is difficult to see how the other sections fit the desires of the Commonwealth without negating the rights of the states.
I have included Section 128 for your further information.
Part V—Powers of the Parliament
51 Legislative powers of the Parliament [see Notes 10 and 11]
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:
(i) trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States;
(v) postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services;
(xx) foreign corporations, and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth;
(xxix) external affairs;
100 Nor abridge right to use water
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade or commerce, abridge the right of a State or of the residents therein to the reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation.
107 Saving of Power of State Parliaments
Every power of the Parliament of a Colony which has become or becomes a State, shall, unless it is by this Constitution exclusively vested in the Parliament of the Commonwealth or withdrawn from the Parliament of the State, continue as at the establishment of the Commonwealth, or as at the admission or establishment of the State, as the case may be.
122 Government of territories
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
Chapter VIII—Alteration of the Constitution
128 Mode of altering the Constitution [see Note 1]
This Constitution shall not be altered except in the following manner:
The proposed law for the alteration thereof must be passed by an absolute majority of each House of the Parliament, and not less than two nor more than six months after its passage through both Houses the proposed law shall be submitted in each State and Territory to the electors qualified to vote for the election of members of the House of Representatives.
But if either House passes any such proposed law by an absolute majority, and the other House rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with any amendment to which the first-mentioned House will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the first-mentioned House in the same or the next session again passes the proposed law by an absolute majority with or without any amendment which has been made or agreed to by the other House, and such other House rejects or fails to pass it or passes it with any amendment to which the first-mentioned House will not agree, the Governor-General may submit the proposed law as last proposed by the first-mentioned House, and either with or without any amendments subsequently agreed to by both Houses, to the electors in each State and Territory qualified to vote for the election of the House of Representatives.
When a proposed law is submitted to the electors the vote shall be taken in such manner as the Parliament prescribes. But until the qualification of electors of members of the House of Representatives becomes uniform throughout the Commonwealth, only one-half the electors voting for and against the proposed law shall be counted in any State in which adult suffrage prevails.
And if in a majority of the States a majority of the electors voting approve the proposed law, and if a majority of all the electors voting also approve the proposed law, it shall be presented to the Governor-General for the Queen’s assent.
No alteration diminishing the proportionate representation of any State in either House of the Parliament, or the minimum number of representatives of a State in the House of Representatives, or increasing, diminishing, or otherwise altering the limits of the State, or in any manner affecting the provisions of the Constitution in relation thereto, shall become law unless the majority of the electors voting in that State approve the proposed law.
In this section, Territory means any territory referred to in section one hundred and twenty-two of this Constitution in respect of which there is in force a law allowing its representation in the House of Representatives.
End of Report: Louis Cook, 1807 Nathaliah Road, Numurkah Vic. 3636. 24th October 2010.
I recommend the following Herald Sun article for your serious consideration...
"Jobs, towns and our children's futures on the line in water war"
21st October 2010.
It has long been predicted that one day wars would be wgaed over water. Well, that day has come.
That might sound dramatic, but
farmers and their communities have
well and truly declared war on the
Federal Government and its Murray-Darllng Basln Authority over plans to
rip up to 4000 billion litres of water from
The Victorian Farmers Federation
yesterday launched a "Fair Go fund" to
finance the fight.
But, while farmers lead the battle,
this is an issue that affects everyone.
In the 13 days since the MDBA plan
was revealed, communities across the
basin - home to 2.1 million people -
have been shellshocked and enraged.
Shellthocked the authority wants up
to 45 per cent of farmers water
entitlements for the environment.
And enraged the authority did not
consider the social and economic
impact on communities and businesses,
nor explore the option of fixing the
Irrigation system to save water.
VFF President Andrew Broad has
quite rightly declared the authority's
proposal as a "legislatived drought'.
Think about that. A government
taking away the lifeblood of
communities - water - in the same
way a natural drought does. And with it
all the problems drought brings.
There Is a bellef that because farmers
survived 13 years of drought, then they
should be able to handle similar water
cuts. But farmers took on frightening
debt levels to buy feed or water to get
them through to better times.
A legislated drought will never end, so
farmers cannot take on debt in the
same way. They will in most cases,
siniply have to get out.
This is not a farmer versus
environment war. It is a fight over how
best to restore river flows. Farmers have long known the environment needs its
fair share of water. For instance, the
north-south pipeline to send water to
Melbourne was the idea of Goulbum
Valley farmers and business people as
part of a plan to split water savings
between farms and the environment.
What we have is a fight over how best
to boost river flows and by how much. The MDEA's plan does not stand
scrutiny because it cannot justify how it
arrived at 4000 bIllion litres. Simplistic maths that falls to account for the
different ways states manage water has
shown thelr work to be a farce.
And failure to take into account that
some water cannot be cut - town and
city water supplies, for instance - makes a mockery of their final figures.
But what really irks communities is
the authority's view that the only way to
return water to the enviironment is to
simply buy it. There has been little
mention of efficiency improvements
that can deliver water to both the
environment and farmers that would
save water and communities.
The Weekly Times this week identified
one Murray River project that could
save 1100 billion litres by spending just
$43 million to regulate flooding.
It would appear the only ones who
support the MDBA's logic are the
economic ratlonalists who cannot see
that while buying water costs about half
that of fixing the system, the latter will
deliver far greater long-term benefits to
both rivers and communities.
And the money is there to do it. The
Government committed $6.8 billion in
2007 to make the water system more
efficient. Only $300 million of that has
By simply buying water, the
devastation will stretch well beyond
Many would be surprised by the
tentacles of agriculture in Victoria.
Dairy, for instance, is the largest
exporter out of the Port of Melbourne,
with $2.1 billion shipped this year.
If dairy production were cut - with
much of our milk coming from the
Murray-Darling Basin - the impact on jobs in transport, storage and the Port
would be immense.
Then there are rural companies with
head offices ln Melbourne - Murray
Goulburn and AWB, for instance. They
wlll be hit by water cuts.
Have you seen all those new tractors
lined up next to the Ring Road and
Geelong Freeway near Altona? There'il
be less need for them - and the people
who sell and service them.
Does your employer manufacture
anything that is carted north up the
Calder or Ballarat freeways?
They will be hit.
Harvey Norman, Myer, Offlceworks,
Bunnlngs - all will feel the impact if
water is taken from farmers,
Don't thlnk the protest scenes we saw
in Deniliquin and Griffith last week
were committed by a "bunch of
They are people like you, fighting for
their livelihoods, their communities and
their children's future.
And they just might be fighting for