Green economic vandalism throttling farming

As a result of irrigation, the Murray Darling Basin became Australia’s premier agricultural province – accounting for up to 40 per cent of the nation’s farm output.  It did so while making the river system more pleasing and safer by creating a placid, ever-flowing river.

The farming benefits of the river having been achieved, green groups led by the ACF and acting under the umbrella of the “Wentworth Group” (founded in 2002 and named after the posh Sydney hotel where they met) started campaigning to suppress irrigation in the area.  The group contained the usual suspects, including David Karoly, Tim Flannery, Martjin Wilder, Peter Cullin, Peter Cosier and were bankrolled by the heir to the Clyde Industries fortune, Robert Purves.

In attacking irrigation as the key to commercial farming on the Murray, the Wentworth group first claimed it was creating salinity and we had a stream of ABC programs (e.g here, here and here) purporting to demonstrate this.  That furphy was unfounded and we hear little of it now.  Salt was never a problem (the Darling is naturally salty) and it is easily remedied.

But economic vandalism gained a whole new focus with the greenhouse scare.  This, coupled with the Millennium drought 1995-2009, brought intensified calls for reducing irrigation – The Garnaut Report even maintained that irrigated agriculture in the area would need to cease by 2050.  The drought having broken, analysis of rainfall records shows it was just another episode in the endless volatility of the rainfall over much of Australia.

In addition to these claims about the need to cease irrigated agriculture and revert to nature there was a third rationale, a need to keep open the mouth of the Murray with constant freshwater flows.  That policy actually seeks to defeat the natural state of the river, which is one of periodic oceanic inundation when river flows are low.

The outcome has been governments buying irrigation rights from farmers.  At least two sevenths of the “high security” water has been bought, ostensibly for “environmental purposes”.  This has obvious outcomes in bringing about reduced production.

I have a piece in Quadrant-on-line covering the issue which largely draws from a longer Australian Environment Foundation submission to the Senate Committee examining the Murray Darling and water.

One commentator on the Quadrant piece said, “It’s as though there is a conspiracy afoot in this country to stop people owning and operating viable farms.”  What we do have is a loathing of commercial success when this involves use of resources combined with an ideology that the income we need comes automatically and is little affected by measures we take that involve inhibiting its creation.

The water rights were bought rather than simply seized from farmers.  The irrigators sold freely and were therefore adequately compensated – indeed, where they retained a portion of their rights, the consequent squeeze on water availability has brought asset value increases.  But the communities that benefit from the farming activities are seeing towns in decline and activities – the latest being rice milling – closing down.

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53 Responses to Green economic vandalism throttling farming

  1. herodotus

    Greens are part of the generally debilitating disease known as PC. They should be fought every time they attack productive industries, which is about all they know how to do.

    As for the irregular rainfall in Australia, get used to it. It has been ever thus. We in Sydney are having a wet summer, so the backyard and parks are looking like Irish meadows instead of their usual dry yellow-brown at this time of year.

  2. Bruce in WA

    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

  3. John Constantine

    When their pissy Wong was running their murry darling final solution, the visceral disgust she felt for the traditional irrigation communities was plain.

    The ability to wipe out despised non communist voting booths and let their electoral commission do Stalin’s work over time and pay with tax dollars is all cultural Marxism 101.

  4. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    I find it ironic that most Greens live in the most artificial of all environments – the inner city – and have the vucking HIDE to lecture anyone about “living with Nature.”

  5. Linden

    That’s right just have a look at what the effect was had upon the town of Balranald on the SA side the Hay Plains in NSW, stuffed the place

  6. Linden

    in the Balranald district due to water buy backs a huge area once a very good grain cropping area has been turned into a useless nothing, just linked it to a national park next to it, the idiots in Labor said it would attract thousands of eco tourists to the area and be boon for the town, well nothing of the sort happened and it actually sent the down into an economic decline with many people having to leave.

  7. Lem

    Look, farming is okay if you do it in a few pots in inner city Sydney or Melbourne, and harvest your own rain water and have solar power cells. Get with the programme you people.

  8. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Look, farming is okay if you do it in a few pots in inner city Sydney or Melbourne, and harvest your own rain water and have solar power cells. Get with the programme you people.

    And you don’t actually dare to think of making a living from said farming. That’s something their pin sized little brains have difficulty in comprehending.

  9. Diogenes

    I find it ironic that most Greens live in the most artificial of all environments – the inner city – and have the vucking HIDE to lecture anyone about “living with Nature.”

    Slightly OT , Last night Mrs D had the idiot box on 9Life & was watching “House Hunters off the Grid”. A new age Canadian dr & his nurse wife (looked like a new age clinic) fell in love with Belize and wanted a second home where the whole family could gather, and sent son to find one as they were too busy … I only watched the first house they saw & the son expressed concern the toilet used fresh water , followed by clip of two heads so tilted they must have a hinge, dad saying we are very aware of the impact we have on this earth , mum nodding like a nodding donkey. As this was a second house – and they were even too busy to check it out themselves, how the f88k are they going to get there ? Unicorn fart powered planes ?

  10. Snirtus

    Don’t forget Turnbull’s role in this nonsense!

  11. Lem

    And you don’t actually dare to think of making a living from said farming. That’s something their pin sized little brains have difficulty in comprehending.

    Of course not. This is the most virtuous of farming. Subsistence farming.

    It’s virtue lies in the fact you are so non capitalistic and hence poor someone else must pay for your safety net. A big international company……or someone…..

  12. memoryvault

    Meanwhile, over on the West Coast, back in 1999 they declared the Abrolhos Islands a “no-go” area for fishing, based on the perception that fish stocks were declining. 15 years later the results are in.

    Nada. Zip. No change. Gotta love this line from the ABC news article:

    The research by a group of West Australian scientists challenges the conventional wisdom that marine sanctuaries allow more and bigger fish to flourish.

  13. John Michelmore

    The whole episode is depressing. In SA Iwas irrigating in the Adelaide Hills, I moved down the road and put two bores down, in view that more intensive Ag was the only way my small property could be viable. the SA gov prescribed the water resource and told me I had no case to use the water. 3 years of fighting, then finally giving up and moving to a near by township that same Government department contacted me wanting me to sign over the access to water for the first property to the new owner. In short they then had to give me access at the second property, but by that time I had virtually walked away from the whole episode. I have no doubt that they wish to destroy profitable agriculture, agriculture is hard enough as it is without this communism that basically destroys farms.

  14. Cannibal

    You can add in the whole harvestable water rights scam in regard to dam construction on farms, and licencing of water bores scam to the above, just to get a complete picture of the hatred agriculture in this country.
    A pathetic joke – do these idiots understand where their food comes from? They won’t be happy until all farms are collectivised and run using serf labour directed by these towering intellects.

  15. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    A pathetic joke – do these idiots understand where their food comes from?

    Of course they do. It appears on the supermarket shelves by magic.

    I was once asked “But what do you DO with all that wheat you grow?”

  16. Lem

    John, your story reminds me of the Owen Valley Water Grab. Shocking story of how local people were treated.

    Actually the whole history of water “wars” in the South West of The US is shocking. Recently we were driving across the Mojave desert and noticed long raised embankments stretching for hundred of km’s. Couldn’t work out what they were, until we drove off road and realised they are long open aqueducts stretching from the Colorado River all the way to western California. Can’t imagine what the evaporation must be.

    Seemed stupid and wrong.

  17. Contempt for coal, transport, farming, grazing, irrigation, mass production and nutrition…Our middle and professional classes are saturated in contempt for the very things that make their modern urban society not just functional but luxurious. If you watch the ABC for a few evenings (as I was recently forced to do on holidays) you’ll catch the drift.

    To learn what our Green Betters say they want, watch what they do during Earth Hour.

    To learn what they really want, watch what they do immediately after Earth Hour.

  18. A pathetic joke – do these idiots understand where their food comes from? They won’t be happy until all farms are collectivised and run using serf labour directed by these towering intellects.

    The majority of food in Australia is grown without need for heavily subsidised irrigation.

    Pricing of water is a big problem all throughout Australia – subsidisation of water provision is a big part of the reason for the concentration of population in a few urban areas and the severe underutilisation of most of Australia’s landmass.

    All if not most of the crops grown in irrigation zones in Australia are only profitable/competitive because of subsidies.

  19. Lem

    I think you mean the green marxist classes.

  20. JC

    What’s the subsidy along the Murray River, Yobbo?

    There’s water in the rive and you use. If you live too far down stream you don’t. Stiff cheddar.

  21. Gerard

    The murray darling report largely ignores the role of dams
    They don’t rate a mention. Also ignored is the fact that during droughts farmers entitlement s are cut often to zero. This means that irrigation is not the cause of low flow during droughts. In fact stored water is released to maintain flow.
    Just another green scam like bans on forestry, bans on land clearance and the multitude of other shackles greens have put on our economy.

  22. .

    Actually JC the subsidies are at the end of the river.

    If you took interference away, or even water pricing, the land values would reflect water security vs land fertility. Land at the end of a river is usually more fertile.

  23. JC

    Actually JC the subsidies are at the end of the river.

    Okay, I get it.

  24. Streetcred

    “It’s as though there is a conspiracy afoot in this country to stop people owning and operating viable farms.”

    Indeed, take the (powerful) farmers out of the equation and the sheeple are more easily managed by using food security as a tool by the socialists.

  25. memoryvault

    All if not most of the crops grown in irrigation zones in Australia
    are only profitable/competitive because of subsidies.

    So, never been to Carnarvon then, eh Yobbo?

  26. 132andBush

    in the Balranald district due to water buy backs a huge area once a very good grain cropping area has been turned into a useless nothing, just linked it to a national park next to it, the idiots in Labor said it would attract thousands of eco tourists to the area and be boon for the town, well nothing of the sort happened and it actually sent the down into an economic decline with many people having to leave.

    Not sure if you’re a local there Lindon but I am very well acquainted with the Lowerbidgee Floodplain.

    Worked there for six years from 1988 on.
    This was when the real development started to gain pace.
    A lot of blood, sweat, tears and capital went into the development of that area. It had a bit of a frontier feel about it actually.
    Pragmatic Water Commission blokes and pioneering type farmers saw the development of the largest organic grain growing area in Australia ( I pretty sure about that ).
    Capitalising on the clean green image and niche marketing a lot of grain was produced, value added and exported.
    It was boom and bust sort of stuff as crops were only grown when water was available for pre irrigation of paddocks.
    The big drought saw the farmers get together and offer the land and water for sale to the State which has duly happened.
    Three years down the track and I’ve heard they still don’t have a management plan in place yet!

    Unfuckingbelievable

  27. rickw

    Pricing of water is a big problem all throughout Australia – subsidisation of water provision is a big part of the reason for the concentration of population in a few urban areas and the severe underutilisation of most of Australia’s landmass.

    Australian arrangements for water pricing are in line with UN recommendations. That’s right, the UN gets to tell the driest continent how to manage its water.

  28. rickw

    “It’s as though there is a conspiracy afoot in this country to stop people owning and operating viable farms.”

    Farming is the rape of Gaia, once you understand this, everything begins to make sense.

  29. memoryvault

    Farming is the rape of Gaia, once you understand this,
    everything begins to make sense.

    True. But farming is also the feeding of people.
    Feeding them keeps them alive. This infuriates some.
    Once you understand this, even more begins to make sense.

  30. Tel

    In addition to these claims about the need to cease irrigated agriculture and revert to nature there was a third rationale, a need to keep open the mouth of the Murray with constant freshwater flows. That policy actually seeks to defeat the natural state of the river, which is one of periodic oceanic inundation when river flows are low.

    The outcome has been governments buying irrigation rights from farmers. At least two sevenths of the “high security” water has been bought, ostensibly for “environmental purposes”. This has obvious outcomes in bringing about reduced production.

    Buying fresh water with tax money for the purpose of throwing it into the ocean always did sound a little bit ummm fishy. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but it seems to be that extraordinary actions require extraordinary justification. I guess we all think we have common sense, but at least some of us don’t.

  31. egg_

    No sympathy for the tards supporting wind farms.

  32. egg_

    The majority of food in Australia is grown without need for heavily subsidised irrigation.

    Build more dams.

  33. egg_

    Look, farming is okay if you do it in a few pots in inner city Sydney or Melbourne, and harvest your own rain water and have solar power cells. Get with the programme you people.

    A pox on their ‘weed’ plants.

  34. Tel

    Pricing of water is a big problem all throughout Australia – subsidisation of water provision is a big part of the reason for the concentration of population in a few urban areas and the severe underutilisation of most of Australia’s landmass.

    In Sydney, if it were legal I could have tankwater off the roof and a small in ground septic and I estimate it would cost me a bit less than what the government charges, no subsidy from or to anyone. The only reason not to do it, is because no one is allowed to do it. The government water is high quality, but pretty darn expensive… we are still subsidising that idiot desalination thingy no one uses.

    Anyhow, that has precisely nothing to do with agricultural water. Cities don’t consume much volume of water compared to a field of wheat. Cities require a lot of infrastructure for cleaning and distributing the water, as well as managing the sewerage… but farms don’t need ultra-clean water, they are completely different use cases. Also, Sydney has a lot of run-off which gets thrown away, precisely because households are not allowed to store their rainwater.

    I’ll also point out that the cost of water has nothing to do with me living in the city, I’m here because it’s easier to find a job. I mean, think about it.

  35. Bruce of Newcastle

    They worship a river. Say no more. At least the Egyptians 7,000 years ago managed to switch their worship from the river to things on it.

  36. John L

    This is not stupidity. Not even Greens or Flanery could be this stupid!
    I think this is a deliberate conspiracy, devised and supported by some external power, to sabotage and damage Australia and the Australian economy. There needs to be a serious investigation to find out who is behind this and who is financing it.
    As with any other investigation, the first question to be asked is “Cui bono”?

  37. Roger

    But the communities that benefit from the farming activities are seeing towns in decline and activities – the latest being rice milling – closing down.

    This is tantamount to malfeasance.

    One hopes the likes of Karoly & Flannery and the politicians who have enabled their economic vandalism will one day be held to account. At the very least, their reputations should be draped in infamy in any future written history of Australia.

  38. Rob MW

    At least two sevenths of the “high security” water has been bought, ostensibly for “environmental purposes”.

    The joke here is that the ‘Officials’ call these ‘environmental purposes’ “Environmental Flows” yet the created “Flow” is released from man-made structures that forms the irrigation scheme.

    Fuck farming in this fucking country, I’m sick and tied of the heavy regulation and the up front high cost of production risk throwing good money after bad. The first dimwit to come along and offer me a reasonable out then I’m gone.

    My family deserves better from me than this livestock and farming bullshit.

  39. herodotus

    … and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    There was a Blue-tongue lizard that creepeth right to my back door yesterday. We looked at each other for a minute, then when it sensed that I gazed away for a second it sprinted under the nearest pile of my daughter’s stuff that she leaveth littering the back (dare I say?) loggia.

  40. Chris M

    What happened to Abbott’s scheme to open up the north to farming? Also massive upgrades of the interstate highways?

    All died out then or what? Well at least we have the NBN or something… 🙁

  41. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    One hopes the likes of Karoly & Flannery and the politicians who have enabled their economic vandalism will one day be held to account. At the very least, their reputations should be draped in infamy in any future written history of Australia.

    I’d like to see them drawn hanged and quartered. The damage they have done is incalculable.

  42. What happened to Abbott’s scheme to open up the north to farming?

    Turnbull is aware of the “north”, what he doesn’t understand is why Abbott wanted to open up Hornsby to more development.

  43. So, never been to Carnarvon then, eh Yobbo?

    Bananas are a bit different, they are competitive because the government bans competing imports.

  44. .

    Chris M
    #1932572, posted on January 31, 2016 at 9:21 pm
    What happened to Abbott’s scheme to open up the north to farming? Also massive upgrades of the interstate highways?

    All died out then or what? Well at least we have the NBN or something… 🙁

    A good idea…BUT – let the private sector do it.

    Just leave us to do it.

    The problem is with that great Hayekian insight, that you need a frickin’ license in this shithole to pull a goddamned beer.

  45. I’ll also point out that the cost of water has nothing to do with me living in the city, I’m here because it’s easier to find a job. I mean, think about it.

    Without heavily subsidised water, a city that size wouldn’t be there. The wettest places in Australia are the most sparsely populated. That wouldn’t be the case if people had to pay the full price for water.

  46. .

    Yobbo a problem with that is the costs are sunk and old.

    A libertarian today would be opposed to the creation of the Riverina MIA and CIA as well as a lot of dam building.

    The private sector would do it best, but are likely regulated out of any opportunity.

    The best we can ask for is utilitarian public works departments.

  47. Snoopy

    The wettest places in Australia are the most sparsely populated.

    Really? The FNQ coastal strip is the most sparsely populated?

  48. Neenee

    Chris M
    #1932572, posted on January 31, 2016 at 9:21 pm
    What happened to Abbott’s scheme to open up the north to farming? Also massive upgrades of the interstate highways?
    All died out then or what?

    For what its worth, the Turnbull agreement with Truss includes “Support for out commitment to the Northern Australia and Agricultural White Papers and our Dams Implementation Policy.” and “Support for the Government’s Infrastructure Program, including our commitment to the Inland Rail.”

  49. memoryvault

    Bananas are a bit different, they are competitive because the government bans competing imports.

    As I said Yobbo, never been to Carnarvon.

    .
    HINT: The ONE crop grown in Carnarvon that is NOT competitive nationally is bananas, because back in the late 70’s Joh Bjelke Petersen implemented a freight subsidy for QLD bananas. Consequently bananas have not been the principle commercial crop since the mid-Eighties.

  50. Excellent stuff Alan – actually the WWF claimed in 2003 to have “….convened the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists to develop practical scientific and economic solutions for the better management of Australia’s precious landscapes and fresh water resources.”
    see –
    http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=1442

    John L got it pretty much exact too –
    John L said #1932517, posted on January 31, 2016 at 8:07 pm
    [This is not stupidity. Not even Greens or Flanery could be this stupid!
    I think this is a deliberate conspiracy, devised and supported by some external power, to sabotage and damage Australia and the Australian economy. There needs to be a serious investigation to find out who is behind this and who is financing it.
    As with any other investigation, the first question to be asked is “Cui bono”?]

    The cost of “unnecessarily more expensive water” in Australia must be in the tens of $Billions adding up the various desalination projects starting in Perth then, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide etc and all that flowed from that.

  51. Tel

    Without heavily subsidised water, a city that size wouldn’t be there.

    I could have cheaper water without the government pretending to help me, but anyway water is less than 1% of the typical household budget. You are trying to claim that people go a million bucks into debt so they can save an imaginary $10 a week on water? Why even hang around an economics blog at all with arguments like that?

    By the way, who to you think is paying this special subsidy that allows Sydney to exist?

    The wettest places in Australia are the most sparsely populated.

    Yeah, and those dry places are ridiculously overcrowded too. You won’t even get a seat on the commuter train during peak hour at Oodnadatta.

  52. JohnA

    When I think about what our various governments have done about water, whether Federal (MDB) or State (desalination plants, Victoriastan’s North-South Pipeline) I am reminded of the origins of the Mafia in Sicily, only they didn’t have the power of legislation.

  53. From within the comfort of their fossil fueled powered and air temperature controlled, “green” tax funded palaces, are the lives and communities so easily destroyed by the “greens” 100’s of miles away ..

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