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The latest Murray Darling Basin plan Proposal adds further insult to injury

Monday 28 May, 2012


It is hard to know why the Murray Darling Basin Authority bothered to put out another draft proposal for slashing water entitlements to irrigators in the Basin. The Sustainable Diversion Limits number is still the same, at an unjustifiable 2750 GLs. They still think the mouth of the Murray sand bars are an indicator of the health of the total system. They are still pandering to the disingenuous yelps from SA whose government pumps Murray water out of the Basin to Whyalla and Adelaide. And it continues to argue that not all areas will be degraded by their plan, only the most productive food and fibre producers in the Basin, so that’s ok.
There has been one change however. The Authority’s attempt to allow more ground water extractions, reportedly for mining was found out and they have now retreated. Unfortunately submissions like that provided by Dairy Australia   have been ignored. They argued that the water losses proposed would put dairy production areas into the equivalent of permanent drought.
The latest MDB Socio-Economic Implications May report acknowledges that: “the Authority’s analysis has indicated that the following communities could be relatively more vulnerable to the Basin Plan.”    That list of four includes: “small dairy communities in northern Victoria”.
Well, that is us, and our billions of dollars in value generated for local and export markets, the 40,000 jobs generated by food processing from the area, and the 52 towns and two cities in Northern Victoria which have more than pulled their weight over generations of back breaking work, risk taking and investment in the future.
“The Basin Plan will be felt as a social as well as an economic issue “   the Authority says, and for places like Northern Victoria “the experiences will be just like the millennium drought,” they say
So why would any country deliberately plan to kill off its most valuable food producers, just as the region is recovering from the drought? The answer to this question is purely political. It lies with the Greens. They insisted that the Carbon Tax was the price of the keys to the Lodge for the Labor Party. They also insist that they must have 4000 Gls of water sitting with the Environmental Water Holder, which is more than the capacity of the river to deliver it, but it is non-negotiable they say.
The fact is food production from irrigated agriculture does not have to be destroyed to pander to the minority interests of the Greens. Irrigators have already had entitlements in Northern Victoria cut to the bone, and there is a tender out to buy even more.   The health of the Basin environment can be improved by addressing the way environmental water is audited, managed and delivered and more investment in water use efficiencies.
The Basin States now have six weeks to respond to this latest version of the plan.
I will never support any plan finally put to the parliament which destroys food production and farm families in Northern Victoria.       END


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