My piece in the Herald Sun this morning
The South Australian election has temporarily benched the political struggle over water use in the Murray-Darling. That region, responsible for over 35 per cent of Australia’s agricultural output, has become a political football with farmers facing pressure from greens and green academics.
In 1995, around 11,000 of the system’s 32,000 gigalitres were allocated to farmers (about 2,500 gigalitres is for drinking water) when state governments agreed to issue no more irrigation licences.
Green activists then orchestrated hysterical claims focussing on the state of the river. “Our continent is falling apart”, said the catastropharian Tim Flannery-led “Wentworth Group of concerned scientists”. Other bloodcurdling assertions claimed, “salt is destroying the rivers and land like a cancer”, and that animals and plants were facing extinction. None of this was true – land salinity, for example, affects only 0.4 per cent of Australia, almost all of it due to natural salt outcrops.
In addition to being driven by green fictions, the Murray-Darling water policy also seeks to ensure freshwater in the lakes at the Murray mouth. Ironically, that water allocation actually modifies nature by feeding lakes would be naturally salt water some of the time – and at a cost of some $7.5 billion!
Meanwhile the green activists are already preparing the ground for taking back 7,000 gigalitres, almost two thirds of irrigators’ water.
Politicians often trumpet the great agricultural opportunities presented by booming Asian economies. But they fail to make the connection between supplying these markets and the regulations they impose preventing farmers from providing that supply. Regulations are throttling the Murray Darling region. The rest of Australia which supplies goods and services to the area faces consequent losses but most politicians are either asleep at the wheel or part of the problem.
See the full piece here. We could be such a wealthy country if only politicians and activists did not impede income creation.