Politicians on the left and some on the right are throttling the use of irrigation water to accord with myths spun by nihilists and to the great disadvantage of the nation’s interest as well as those of farmers and their suppliers.
Over the past century, the Murray Darling river’s naturally highly irregular flows have been transformed to convert it into the tranquil, ever-flowing waterway that has allowed the Basin it serves to become the source of 41 per cent of the nation’s agricultural output.
Green activists have however demonised irrigated farming by promoting myths about the river being under environmental stress. Such claims were further amplified by fictitious and disproven claims that the precipitation into the catchment area will be much reduced due to supposed global warming.
As a result, one quarter of the water previously used for agricultural activities dependent on irrigation has been re-allocated to environmental targets, including transforming the mouth of the Murray from its natural salt-infused state into freshwater lakes. Mismanagement of these environmental flows was critical in causing an unprecedented fish kill in 2019.
The cost of the Basin Plan in de-rating the region’s agricultural potential has been tragic, for the region. In aggregate terms this is likely to be in excess of $3 billion per annum at a time when agricultural export opportunities are promising. The measures adopted in the Basin plan were reactions to ill-founded and refuted concerns about human damage to the environment.
The Commonwealth should cease incurring costs in preventing water use for irrigation and should re-sell the water it has banked to those willing to pay for it.
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