Complete with selective leaks to the cheer squad media and pretty pictures of pelicans on the water, the Prime Minister will today up the ante in taking water from irrigators in the Murray Darling.
But wait! The extra 450 billion litres on top of the 2750 already committed won’t be bought until 2019. So, just on the off-chance that the nation’s most energetic and destructive government ever manages to secure its base and bribe sufficient numbers of people to return it to office, it will not have yet another embarrassing pot of money to leach out of the taxpayer. What with the mineral tax shortfall, “commitments” to spend big on education, dental health and anything else that tugs the heart-strings of the perpetually unsatisfied even Gillard is beginning to wonder if it all can be paid for.
Of no concern to the government is the effect on farmers’ confidence in their future with all this entails in terms of investing to improve productivity. In line with the Gillard mob’s view of the economy, production is a given and the only issue is how do we redistribute it between our various interest groups to ensure we continue in office .
As far as the Murray Darling is concerned, this is a working river. Farmers in its basin produce a third of our agricultural output and that level would diminish considerably without the 11,000 gigalitres of water used by irrigators in the years when the water is available. That’s half the system’s normal availability and when water is not available – and the variable Australian climate means that is not infrequently – then the irrigators don’t get it.
But the government wants to re-prioritise the flows to
reinforce its political base save some trees.
Of course the Australian Conservation Foundation, who were notified of the initiative in enough time to applaud the move as “a good start” don’t want to stop at 4,000 or even 8,000 gigalitres. They will never cease campaigning, and using taxpayer funds to do so, until all the water is taken from modern agriculture. Doubtless they would also like to return the system to its natural state. But oops! that would mean it would alternatively be totally dry every decade or so and flood a quarter of Victoria. Better not tell anyone and just sing along withthe governemnt that taking water will impel farmers to greater acts of productivity heroism so we have a win-win.