NSW Election: the Triumph of the Irrigators

A significant feature of the NSW elections has been the voting in the rural seats.

The Nationals are paraded as having had a poor election.  This is not obvious – the Nationals got 9.7 per cent of the vote in the Legislative Assembly, a swing against them of 0.9 per cent, in the context of considerable opposition on their traditional turf with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF) increasing their share by 3.2 per cent and One Nation up by 1.1 per cent.  (One Nation will get over 6 per cent in the Upper House).  However, this performance resulted in a loss of two seats (Murray and Barwon) to the SFF together with the confirmation of the gain of Orange that the SFF had previously made.  And Dubbo and Wagga also saw major swings against the Nationals to right wing candidates.

The Nationals did well in other seats, notably that of the Deputy Leader John Barilaro.  Barilaro, unlike the National’s leadership in Canberra where David Littleproud replaced Barnaby Joyce as Agriculture Minister, but in common with the ascendant SFF had called for action to restore water to irrigation.

This issue and mismanagement of the Murray Darling oin general has been crucial to the electoral losses of the Nationals and the Water Minister has stepped down.

As well as the loss of three Lower House seats, the erosion of support to pro-irrigation parties will also force those Nationals previously complacent about the issue to step up in support of their traditional constituents.  In addition, SFF, One Nation and perhaps David Leyonhjelm will likely have 4 Upper House seats and the balance of power.  Hence, even if Gladys Berejiklian wins an outright majority in the Lower House a review of Murray Darling irrigation policy in the Murray Darling is inevitable.

This is not before time. As the Australian Environment Foundation report (see Myths of the Murray) demonstrated, green activists have joined with political interest to develop unnatural fresh water lakes at the Murray mouth and to re-allocate water to environmental uses.  This has meant taking from farmers vast quantities of water previously used for irrigation.  Converting salty to fresh water lakes plus meeting spurious claims about irrigation causing salinity and about distressed trees have resulted in one quarter of the water previously used for irrigation being diverted as “environmental flows”.

The Greens and the ALP were the means by which environmental activism pushed such profoundly unproductive policies, and they have policy goals that would go much further in reducing irrigation.  In developing the current plan, they were joined by urban Liberals and, as evidenced by David Littleproud’s support, this even infected the Nationals, with the adoption of diluted versions of the policy proposals put forward by green left radicals.

Some $13 billion of government funding has been wasted on reducing Murray Darling water available for irrigation at a cost of about $3 billion a year in lost production.  The Murray Darling Basin is home to over 40 per cent of the nation’s agricultural output and a source of raw produce to other industries as well as contributing a major share of the 15 per cent of exports derived from agriculture.

Urban indifference and virtue signalling with irrigation has had severely deleterious consequences on the economy as a whole and especially on the Murray Darling region.  Hopefully, the NSW election will prove to be a turning point.

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51 Responses to NSW Election: the Triumph of the Irrigators

  1. stackja

    Urban indifference and virtue signalling with irrigation has had severely deleterious consequences on the economy as a whole and especially on the Murray Darling region.

    MSM created ‘Urban indifference and virtue signalling with irrigation’.
    ‘Hopefully, the NSW election will prove to be a turning point.’ Only if voters stop falling for MSM disinformation.

  2. John Constantine

    Dynamite the barrages and open the mouth of the Murray.

    Is the mouth of the yarra where the river enters port Phillip bay, or where the bay enters the great southern ocean.

  3. John Constantine

    Rewilding the Murray darling basin and conducting clearances of the racist colonialist settler culture, while redistributing their electorates to imported vote plantations is all part of the revolution.

    Next electoral redistribution will hit shooters farmers and fishers hardest of all parties.

    Comrades.

  4. stackja

    Liberty Quote
    In a Country where Clamour always intimidates and faction often oppresses the Government, the regulations of Commerce are commonly dictated by those who are most interested to deceive and impose upon the Public.

    — Adam Smith

  5. W Hogg

    Malcolm backed this horrendous Green policy, didn’t he?

  6. Davefromweewaa

    “Turning point.”
    Hope so Alan.
    I think the sentimentalists and grandstanders need to tell us who they think should go without irrigated produce.

    Pyrmonter, who do you think should stop eating drinking and wearing irrigated produce?

  7. stackja

    @aclennell
    Niall Blair first minister to go. Family reasons but also the death threats over Menindee fish kill and the stress of dealing with the water issue which saw the Nats lose two seats to the Shooters sees him pull the pin

  8. Chris M

    Converting salty to fresh water lakes

    Curious when was lake Alexandrina converted from being seawater? I’ve always known it as fresh, although it may have been a blend in drought years..

  9. Malcolm backed this horrendous Green policy, didn’t he?

    Malcolm backed every horrendous Green policy.

  10. RobK

    Hopefully, the NSW election will prove to be a turning point.
    Small steps, a long way to go.
    Keep up the good work Alan.

  11. John Constantine

    Their turnbullites snowy river treachery will mean we can submit to their signed Paris conventions and dump the snowy water into the Pacific, except for the water cycled through the ten billion dollar turntravesty.

  12. stackja

    DescriptionLake Alexandrina is a freshwater lake located in the Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island and Murray Mallee regions of South Australia, adjacent to the coast of the Southern Ocean, about 100 kilometres south-east of Adelaide. The lake adjoins the smaller Lake Albert; together they are known as the Lower Lakes. Wikipedia

    The Goolwa Barrages comprise five barrage structures in the channels separating Lake Alexandrina from the sea at the mouth of the River Murray and the Coorong in Australia. Wikipedia

  13. John Constantine

    Barrages built in the thirties.

    Could still have them, and the murray darling basin both, but for the craven capitulation signing of the transnational treaty on the rights of the ducks of the coorong.

    Comrades.

  14. 132andBush

    The Greens see humans as a virus on mother earth.
    With this in mind all their policies make sense.

    The level of anger in irrigation districts is VERY high and as I said last night on the election thread the Coalition is in for a rude shock come the fed election.

    Small anecdote; Was at Collier and Miller Engineering (Griffith) dropping off a small job for machining. Know the blokes at the counter fairly well and after asking how things were going was informed their workshop has shed 20% of it’s workforce in the last 12 months. Biggest reason? No water.
    Anyone who knows Griffith would know C&M and how many people that represents from just one employer.

  15. John Constantine

    Australia is committed to sacrifice fifty percent of our irrigation farms by 2030, so if they dont go under this excuse, their left will have to manufacture another one.

  16. stackja

    132andBush
    #2969013, posted on March 24, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    Most urban voters it seems don’t care. And north coast Greens are probably busy ‘smoking’.

  17. Rob MW

    This is not obvious – the Nationals got 9.7 per cent of the vote in the Legislative Assembly, a swing against them of 0.9 per cent, in the context of considerable opposition on their traditional turf with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF) increasing their share by 3.2 per cent and One Nation up by 1.1 per cent. (One Nation will get over 6 per cent in the Upper House).

    Alan – in context this not entirely correct, statistics often don’t tell the exact truth. The percentages used are taken from a State wide count, which includes zero percentage where the NSW Nationals & the Shooters didn’t run candidates. If on the other hand that the percentages where taken only from the seats that either or both parties ran candidates then the swing against the NSW Nationals is quite large.

    The other interesting point is the Shooters (who I voted for – Barwon) with just 3 lower house seats (Orange, Murray & Barwon) now represent over 50% of NSW’s land mass (the seat of Barwon alone is 44% of the State’s land mass) which heightens the sheer size of the loss by the NSW Nationals to the Shooters in representative area.

    It’s a lot more than just water issues, a lot more. The NSW Nationals are simply joined at the hip to the city based Liberals, a united party, and have failed miserably to protect it’s constituents from what is essentially the unity of environmental terror perpetuated against property rights by a defined unity of policy by Labor, city centric Liberal’s and the Greens. The Nationals refuse to stand up, in fact, the NSW Nationals don’t even have a policy on property rights which is a surprise given the size of the area and equity dependant upon those rights being protected, and the time has come where enough is enough, simple as that.

    The NSW Nationals would do well to actually read, for example, the Shooters Fishers & Farmers party’s written policies on these issues to see the reason why there is a mutiny of constituents happening, they are not hard to read and easy to find.

    Rob

  18. John Constantine

    Without mass importation of voters and the godless commo electoral commission stealing rural seats in redistributions, the shooters would have ten seats.

  19. Tel

    The level of anger in irrigation districts is VERY high and as I said last night on the election thread the Coalition is in for a rude shock come the fed election.

    They have done OK at the state level, but what can they do at the federal level? They can punish the Liberals (line forms to the left guys) but that’s going to bring in a Shorten government joined at the hip with Greens and surviving on Green preferences. There’s AC and PeaHON, and at best you might hope to slow down the Shorten juggernaut with that.

  20. Ubique

    Attempting to reduce the salinity of our oceans by marginally increasing the flow of rivers into the sea at vast cost is the dumbest and most futile policy in Australian history.

  21. John Constantine

    Their murray darling basin plan may not succeed in desalinating the sea, but it will rewild and deindustrialise a big slab of rural australia, purging racist settler culture in a set of clearances akin to the Highlanders.

    Just another assault towards the economic genocide of western industrial civilisation.

    The State didn’t buy the hundreds of military style assault rifles for use in urban areas and dogbox apartment towers.

    Comrades.

  22. Tim

    This is why the Nationals are toast in regional areas

    I sent this to my local member re water. By the way Littleproud is the fed Agriculture minister and represents the areas which would seriously benefit from the Bradfield scheme. They have all the studies but they choose the person to do it that will deliver the result they are looking for or set the terms so tightly that the result will deliver the result they want. He just doesnt get it. The water doesnt need to be pumped, the scheme includes a hydro power generator and it can be gravity fed into the murray darling system. Water is wealth generating

    To David Littleproud
    “Just so you dont say you constituents have never raised it
    Get out of the Paris Fraud agreement
    Cut imigration to more sustainable levels
    Start building Dams in particular the Bradfield scheme. ( I dont want you to tell me why it cant be done I want you to find a way to make it work. I am sure a few farmers in your electorate would be able to build it) Much of the water in the bradfield scheme dam would be able to be gravity fed south
    Dont do snowy 2.0 spend the money on the bradfield scheme and a hydro dam in north Queensland more bang for the buck.

    We need to be told what can be done not what cant be”

    From David littleproud
    This is the response I got
    “THE BRADFIELD SCHEME/WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

    There have been a number of large-scale water diversion projects proposed for Australia. As a general principle, using water more efficiently and developing new water supply sources are considered better options than transporting water long distances. The Government prefers to look at developing capacity and driving regional development in the catchments where the water is harvested before considering moving water over long distances.

    The most well-known of the schemes to move water from northern Australia to southern Australia is the Bradfield Scheme, which proposed that floodwaters from the coastal rivers of north Queensland could be diverted across the Great Dividing Range and into inland river systems.

    In 1982, the Queensland Government commissioned a study that reviewed the feasibility of the Bradfield Scheme. This study found that it would be possible to irrigate around 72 000 ha of land west of the Great Dividing Range. In today’s prices, it would cost $10 billion to build, and nearly $500 million a year for electricity for pumping the water to users.

    A preliminary assessment into extending the Bradfield Scheme into the Murray-Darling Basin by the Northern Land and Water Taskforce was also undertaken in 2007 and concluded that while such a scheme may be technically possible, it would not be economically viable, environmentally sustainable or practically feasible. The key issue with large-scale diversion projects is that the final product would be unaffordable to users, once the ongoing operational costs are considered.

    State and territory governments are generally responsible for planning, allocating and managing water resources. Any large scale water supply projects would need the full support of the respective jurisdiction before it could be undertaken. However, the Coalition Government is committed to fast tracking the investigation and investment in viable water infrastructure projects to help grow the Australian economy, meet future water demand challenges and build resilience to variable water availability.

    The Australian Government has committed $2.6 billion to build the water infrastructure of the future through the $580 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility. Through these initiatives, the Coalition will co-invest with state and territory governments in the construction of water infrastructure that will provide secure and affordable water to support the growth of regional economies and communities across Australia.

    Already through these funds the Government is investing in project such as Rookwood Weir in Queensland, the Wellington-Myalup Water Supply Project in Western Australia and the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme in South Australia. The infrastructure funds are also supporting 39 feasibility studies which include $2.5 million for a feasibility study into the Ord Stage 3 project.”

  23. RobK

    Not even a single raindrop should be allowed to flow into the sea without it first having been used for the benefit of the people… King Parakramabahu the Great of Sri Lanka (1153 – 1186)

  24. 132andBush

    Most urban voters it seems don’t care. And north coast Greens are probably busy ‘smoking’.

    I think they would care, stack.
    All those I’ve explained it to certainly do and are quite shocked.
    People just don’t know and for that we can blame the FMIC led by the green dominated ABC.

  25. This is why the Nationals are toast in regional areas

    Very early in the Abbott government, I sent similar themed letters (on specific topics) to both Abbott & Brandis.
    The responses received were even worse than that one.

    I knew then, that these bastards don’t have any empathy with the population, or in improving our lives.

  26. Good post Alan.

    I chaired a Senate inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin plan. It found South Australia had lost very little of its water entitlements while Qld, NSW and Victoria are paying a very heavy price to send more water to SA.

    The water sent to SA is used to keep the lower lakes fresh. The Murray is the only river in Australia where the estuary is obstructed. About 900 GL of fresh water evaporates from the lakes each year, which would be salt water if the estuary was allowed to operate naturally.

    SA also has a scheme (the South East Draining Scheme) which diverts water out to sea. Under natural conditions this water would flow into the Coorong and prevent it from deteriorating. Instead, water from NSW and Victoria is supposed to keep the Coorong alive.

    NSW should withdraw from the MDB plan until SA fixes its problems. That means removing the barrages after building a weir near Wellington to prevent sea water from contaminating Adelaide and irrigation offtake, and returning water from the SE Drainage Scheme to the Coorong.

    This would enable Qld, SA and NSW to retain more of their water, for the benefit of regional communities.

  27. Tim

    Most urban voters it seems don’t care.

    But they would if they realised that the lack of water is what is forcing up their vegie prices and future meat prices

    Most dont understand that when water is plentiful that farmers plant more which results in cheaper prices, more jobs and more choice

    The idea of making water scarce does the opposite. Then there is the quality of life, in hot rural areas dams and rivers are used for entertainment. Skiing fishing etc I wonder if these benefits are in the feasibility studies I doubt it.

  28. 132andBush

    David Leyonhjelm,
    Thank you for at least seeing/acknowledging the problem when just about everyone else wont.

  29. Julian the deplorable

    The winner in Wagga “Dr Joe” as he refers to himself is a left wing candidate. I think you’ll find the same in Dubbo.

  30. feelthebern

    Oh my.
    The vested interests are strong on this thread.

  31. Entropy

    Tim, I would be all for irrigation schemes, but the Bradfield Scheme is sheer idiocy. Why do you need to dam east coast rivers, then transport water hundreds of kms across flattish land, passing highly suitable irritable land, to water semi arid country in the west? Cost a fortune when there are much more suitable land and climate closer to the dams you could build.
    Again, why bypass suitable irrigation land to water inland river catchments? Financial madness.

    Trying to combat the idiocy of inner urban greens with a different kind of idiocy seems pretty stupid to me. You could do overland flow capture in ring tanks along the Flinders, Gilbert and lower Mitchell if you want to irrigate NWQ for much lower cost. And water in dams on the east coast would be better utilised closer to home in the Burdekin, Walsh and upper Mitchell catchments.

    None of this is relevant to the Murray Darling Basin. Cotton Australia should sue those Menindee Lakes activists. Their emotive lies are the sort of thing that results in urban based politicians introducing such laws.

    The SFFP aren’t any better with their NIMBY CSG policies. I was in Lismore a little while ago, as you enter town there is these signs bragging that 90% odd ratepayers voted to ban CSG. Most of the weekend, people were complaining there were no jobs, the town was dying and the government should do something about it. I just pointed out that decisions have consequences, and the thousands of engineers and work crews associated with a CSG operation might have transformed the community but was chased out of town by fearmongering greens. A fear that as Queensland has already demonstrated with tens of thousands of Wells, is unjustified. I told them the big reason the place is dead is a direct result of the choices they have made. By the looks on their faces nobody had ever put it that bluntly to them before.

  32. Mother Lode

    Most urban voters it seems don’t care. And north coast Greens are probably busy ‘smoking’.

    Urban voters care about Australia’s reputation abroad as something about themselves. They used to be proud of Australian agriculture and even mining – when we were the lucky country.

    At present they care more our environmental reputation – even though the only people with opinions on that overseas are more environmentalists. Europeans and Americans are more likely to admire what they still (erroneously) think of as a free nation with a relaxed lifestyle.

    But our bugmen are happy to fall for the Greens guff because it allows them to see themselves as more informed and morally elevated at no cost to themselves.

    Without the Greening of the MSM this would not have happened. They would have remained dreaming doe-eyed of Kakadu and how a manic canvas-dauber in the SMH is a true heir to the glories of European art.

    We should set up a Press Council Council to rake their arses over the coals every time they publish errant fatuous nonsense. At present a claque of urban hippies and seniors sadly sliding into dotage have all the support that can be mustered when they wage their silly ill-informed campaigns – give the other guys a hand fighting back.

  33. Pyrmonter

    @ ‘Bradfield Schemers’

    We already have the abundant waters of the Ord River, impounded in Lake Argyle. What say we find something to do with them (50 years or so after the dam was built) before embarking on more Utopia-episode generating ‘visionary’ (ie, deluded) ‘infrastructure’ programs?

    The proto-dry, Bert Kelly (whose electorate covered the upper part of the Murray in South Australia) had choice words about the Nats (then the Country Party) and dam-building: https://economics.org.au/2011/08/cold-water-on-government-instigated-irrigation-schemes/ and https://economics.org.au/2013/12/bert-kelly-vs-doug-anthony/#1

    @ Alan M

    The Lower Lakes were predominantly fresh at European settlement. They are the site of irrigation, urban and recreational development, and have been in place since the 1930s (and in some parts, rather earlier). They cannot be the cause of problems experienced by NSW irrigators from 2000. Whereas the impoundment of catchment headwaters – something fostered by the Nats’ ‘power-broker’ ‘macher’ politicos like Joyce can.

  34. Farmer Gez

    The drainage of the SE of South Australia has impacted the Coorong but has produced a wonderfully productive agricultural zone that was once a series of vast swamps.
    Drought ravaged most of Eastern Australia this year but the SE in SA had a huge year, turning of big crops and lots of fat cattle and sheep.

  35. John Constantine

    Their left keep claiming the mouth of the Murray is not where the river enters the estuary, but out at the open ocean/estuary boundary.

    A boundary engineered with nineteen thirties technology and considerations.

    One signed treaty though, and Australia loses all sovereignty over it’s breadbasket.

    As intended.

    Comrades.

  36. Tim

    Tim, I would be all for irrigation schemes, but the Bradfield Scheme is sheer idiocy. Why do you need to dam east coast rivers, then transport water hundreds of kms across flattish land, passing highly suitable irritable land, to water semi arid country in the west? Cost a fortune when there are much more suitable land and climate closer to the dams you could build.
    Again, why bypass suitable irrigation land to water inland river catchments? Financial madness.

    Absolute rubbish.
    “Flattish land” Dam height about 1100 meters above sea level, and can be gravity fed.
    “to water semi arid country” only because there is no water because the rain generally doesnt cross the ranges the same way as it falls east of the ranges”
    “passing highly suitable irritable land” now thats an idea, we can increase the amount of land that can be used. Passing does not mean bypassing.
    “to water inland river catchments” Now thats a good idea. Water is wealth creating. The only thing that inland river catchments are short of is water

    But this is the real issue. People can bang on about getting the water closer to where it is utilised, but as we are currently seeing It isnt raining there . The water in the tropics is there year in year out and we are not talking about taking it all and diverting it just a small proportion. For those that think like Entropy applying your logic then we should not build Electricity transmission lines and interconnectors to get power to where it is needed. We should not build freeways and highways because they dont provide a return. This issue is about getting water to where it is needed, pure and simple.

    There are a number of responsibilities of government one of which is water. Instead of building desal plants perhaps we should use what falls from the sky. Instead of spending 6Billion on water grids linking already low dams perhaps we should be looking to utilise what is already being wasted and getting it where it needs to go.

    The first thing we need to do is get the bankers out of water trading, all that does is make water scarce. Imagine the uproar if the same logic was applied to roads and we started only allowing the person willing to pay the highest toll to drive on them. Now imagine if you had paid for 10 toll trips and we told you we are going to cut your allocation to 3 . That is what is happening with water.
    By the way the ord river last time I looked was in WA that is the west coast and there has been talk of taking that water to Perth. Same issue, if you need water in WA then that is where it is abundant

  37. Pyrmonter

    @ Tim

    The point is that the cost of electricity transmission lines is recovered (and more) because there’s a demand for the product. The history of irrigation is that the demand doesn’t exist. Or exist at anywhere near the prices necessary to cover cost. What it engenders is a mendicant class of farmers – uselful voters for parties of agrarian socialism, but not socially productive. If you think there’s money to be made from it, float a company to raise the funds to do so. But hands off the taxpayer’s purse.

  38. Peter

    Billions wasted reducing water, Billions wasted reducing Carbon Dioxide. Plant and animals need Water, and plants need carbon dioxide. Australia needs to build pipe lines, build dams, and any slight increase in carbon dioxide is actually a benefit.

  39. 132andBush

    They cannot be the cause of problems experienced by NSW irrigators from 2000.

    So enough water flowing past the barrages each day to keep a moderate to average sized irrigation farm in full production for a whole year just so we can say the Murray mouth is still open (in a drought) cannot be the cause of problems experienced by irrigators upstream?!
    And that’s not even taking into account the unnecessary evaporation from the lower lakes themselves.

    What am I missing here?

  40. davefromweewaa

    132andbush,
    It’s not what Pyrmonter knows that is the problem but what he thinks he knows that isn’t right.

  41. 132andBush

    dave,
    It’s not that he’s ignorant, it’s that he knows so much that isn’t so.

    h/t Ronald Reagan

  42. Pyrmonter

    Gents

    Rather than being rudely personal, what say you identify:

    (a) instances of unsubsidized irrigation that has remained viable. Note the mid 20C critique from Bert Kelly; what he said then had applied for the 70 or so years in which irrigation had been promoted, going back to the times when Pyrmonter’s ancestors were pioneer irrigators. The reality is, it rarely if ever worked then, and it hasn’t changed. The irrigated industries have relied successively on soft loans, product protection, subsidies, and the myth of ‘intensive development’, which has ranged from the farcical to, in the case of solider-settlement, the tragic. However many copies of ‘Water into Gold’ are sold, the underlying economics of the exercise haven’t stacked up, even before you account for the real environmental costs. The industry has received support that would have embarrassed event the tax-eaters of the motor vehicle industry; and unlike them, it still has its hand out for more. Over $10 billion has been spent over the last decade and a bit … and what is there to show for it?

    (b) any tangible, contemporaneous evidence that the lower lakes were commonly saline. While it’s possible that in drought there were ‘reverse flows’, the predominant nature of the lower lakes is as a body of fresh water.

  43. Tim

    dave,
    It’s not that he’s ignorant, it’s that he knows so much that isn’t so.

    h/t Ronald Reagan

    +1

    Absolutely correct

    Seriously Not worth responding to

  44. 132andBush

    Pyrmonter,
    Re (a): Please specify what you call subsidies that are received in 2019?
    I’m not denying there may be some, just think you should produce examples, instead of a broad scale ad hom of a whole sector of the economy (and service industries) as no more than tax bludgers.

    Re (b):See this article for a start
    My concern re the Lakes relates more to the symbolic need for water to be flowing out the “Murray mouth” and the amount of water wasted in the process. It has been documented from early exploration that this is not naturally the case and in fact, given the last two years rainfall, if it were not for the upstream dams the Murray would be no more than a series of waterholes and billabongs by now.

    the predominant nature of the lower lakes is as a body of fresh water.

    The above statement is not true. (see above article) and is a bit of a strawman to my argument re artificially maintained outflows during a drought.

  45. Pyrmonter

    @132

    Subsidy means the provision of any input at less than a freely determined market price; it can usefully extend to product market protection. That includes the water taken, which has high value alternative uses – the water charges to urban areas are variously 10 – 100 times what irrigators pay.

    To give a well documented example of trade protection, the dried fruit industry has been an active proponent of ‘anti-dumping’ protection for decades. To give but one example: https://www.adcommission.gov.au/cases/Documents/016-VerificationReport-AustralianIndustry-DriedFruitsAustralia.pdf. The citrus industry has done likewise (though, thankfully, it and its price distortions are much reduced).

    As for the Lower Lakes – they were fresh water at settlement. They were fresh when Sturt traversed them. They’ve been predominantly fresh ever since. In the last 15 years the upper catchment users keen to increase their water harvest have run a campaign insisting that, against the historical evidence, the lakes were either fed from the South East of SA (unlikely – the SE was a flat, swampy area at settlement) or were frequently salt water. As you note above, the outflows from the Murray aren’t enormous; they never have been. The ‘mouth’ is not like that of the Mississippi or Amazon – it’s a narrow, shifting channel. It wouldn’t permit much re-charge if the barrages were removed.

    Thousands of people make use of the Lower Lakes as fresh water in ways that could not occur if the lakes became hyper-saline, which they likely will if further water extraction occurs in the upper catchments. If all those people were bought out in some grand ‘Coasean bargain’; and there were appropriate environmental protections, the campaign might have some sense. But I’ve seen no suggestion that the upper catchment claimants have any willingness to fund such a scheme. Instead, they wish to further immiserise those at the end of the River, in order to build more settlements like Cubbie – an enterprise so successful it has already been through Voluntary Administration, despite the assistance rendered by its well-connected directors.

  46. Pyrmonter
    Your point is that the rights to the water have been shifted to those beneficiaries at the mouth. If this is established a Coasian solution may be appropriate. The issue is that the river is a working river. The main forces at present are those trying to change this into a bastardised idealic version of the rivewr that prevailed prior to settlement

  47. Davefromweewaa

    Pyrmonter,
    Lots of references to saltwater species back in the day. Including in 1915 “they were catching mullet at Mannum and there was a sighting of a shark at Tailem Bend and a dolphin at Murray Bridge.”
    Mulloway fishing in the lakes supported 100 families.
    If you’re interested you can find that at lakesneedwater.org.
    The thing is that we could have a vastly more productive MDB and a better environment by letting the Mulloway back in and channeling the fresh water around the lakes edge to users.
    I have a feeling you don’t want that.

  48. Pyrmonter

    @ Alan

    To speak of ‘right to water’ suggests some sort of riparian allocation. Riparian laws weren’t generally received into Australian law at settlement, and whatever private rights may have existed were generally extinguished in the first rush of enthusiasm for the Chaffey brothers’ rural equivalents to the Springfield monorail. Even in places overseas where riparian rights exist, they don’t permit complete appropriation of water at the expense of downstream users.

    The practice in Australia has been to apply something akin to the US system of ‘prior appropriation’ : a model that closely follows the ‘homesteading’ model beloved of some ‘L’ Libertarians. In which case, uses adopted early in the 20C (remembering that the barrages and similar irrigation schemes in South Australia and NW Victoria started in the 1890) clearly trump those upstream.

  49. 132andBush

    Pyrmonter,
    Just want to clear this up.
    Do you have a vested interest in pushing your argument?

    I do. I live in an area getting smashed by the reduction in water availability and would rather it didn’t happen.

    What’s your reason? Hobby?

  50. Pyrmonter

    @ 132

    My motive is interest in policy generally, and a dislike of the sort of interest-group politics pedaled by many of the Nats and some in SFFP. It is coupled with a more than sneaking suspicion that there’s a degree of astroturfing going on, and that the upper catchment regulators have been quite keen to grab every bit of water they can impound. That Keith De Lacy was involved in Cubbie is, to me at least, a red flag indicating that what has mattered to them is not ‘intrinsic viability’ of the business, but the ability to get regulatory favours.

    I’m a Hewson-era Lib – strong on markets and opposed to state intervention, a fan of the politics of people as diverse as John Stone, Bert Kelly and Jim Carlton – the original dries, before that term acquired the ‘social conservative’ tone it has in the past two decades – that sought to empower consumers and shed the role that Keith Hancock famously described as that of a ‘vast social utility’ diverting resources from productive to unproductive industries in response to electoral pressure.

    That, and the experience of being brought up in a family with history as irrigators, fruit co-op members and irrigation activists. An enormous amount of effort was expended by them and their kindred to do things that, ultimately, weren’t worth doing (at least the extent that they’ve been done).

    I haven’t managed to find out much about the SFFP member for Murray, but as someone who boasts of a Churchill scholarship for study of irrigation policy and environmental matters, is she actually the activist Alan M fancies she is?

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