Letter to the Editor

By Country News on March 16, 2017
  • Letter to the Editor

    Tatura's Terry Court says we are facing our last chance to fix our over- allocated irrigation system.

We must adapt to a sustainable industry

Water industry leaders have been placing great emphasis on the Victorian Government’s recently-released report Social and Economic Impacts of the Basin Plan in Victoria.

Water industry leaders and some members of the press seem to have gone to great lengths to embellish the report findings.

An example is in an article in the Shepparton News on March 8 that contained the statement: ‘‘A repeat of the 2008-09 drought in northern Victoria would see only enough water for horticulture and no other agricultural industries’’.

However, the report states: ‘‘It is now at the point where in a repeat of 2008-09 allocation levels, horticultural use could account for all the available water’’.

The report brings into question the veracity of the finding of the Goulburn Murray Irrigation Industry leadership forum report that estimated the dairy industry was losing $200million a year at the farm gate, recognising numerous other significant influencing factors other than water availability.

The report acknowledges that it did not factor in the human capacity to adapt to difficult circumstances.

We know from past experience that adaptation to changing or adverse circumstances does take place.

This adaptation utilises best technologies and practices at the time, an ever-changing basket of tools.

The report also explains that as a result of the spatially random nature of the Commonwealth buyback, the effective costs of delivering water in the GMID, where most irrigated dairying occurs, will increase significantly unless up to 40 per cent of the delivery system infrastructure in place before the GMW Connections Project began can be rationalised.

If we are to achieve a sustainable irrigation industry and a healthy environment, our water industry leaders and all other stakeholders should be hell-bent on reducing the extent of the delivery system and number of irrigated enterprises. If that means more money has to be made available, so be it. This is our last chance to fix our over-allocated irrigation system.

I agree with recent statements, that anyone involved in the future of communities of northern Victoria — that is all of us — should read the executive summary of the report and appreciate what it says and not what you would like it to say.

—Terry Court, Tatura

Become efficient, not greedy

Recent comments from the Citrus Australia South Australian Region (CASAR) should be compulsory reading for every Australian politician, not to mention the hundreds of bureaucrats involved in implementing water policy.

Quite simply, it is time to efficiently use water recovered under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, before we look to recover more at the expense of rural communities.

This view is supported by CASAR, which recently wrote that ‘‘South Australia has received a fair deal with the return of 2750Gl of water’’ and that any more was ‘‘more than the environment needs’’.

It advocates South Australia ‘‘starts using the water we get more effectively and efficiently’’ and suggested its state government consider exploring other options to support the environment.

In eastern states there have long been similar calls, which continue to fall on deaf ears.

It is past time for the South Australian Government to take a more mature and responsible approach to basin plan implementation.

We all want a healthy, sustainable, working basin in which communities can thrive and prosper.

It is an undeniable fact that this cannot occur if additional water is recovered from productive use. It will have a devastating impact on rural communities.

It should therefore be the responsibility of politicians of all persuasions, at all levels, to accept that the additional 450Gl cannot be delivered without adverse consequences, and acknowledge the original legislation supported non-recovery of this additional water if there were adverse socio-economic impacts.

Australia needs a strong agricultural sector that provides food and fibre for domestic needs, while at the same time being a major export earner for our nation.

Without an adequate supply of affordable water, some of the most prosperous agricultural communities will struggle to survive.

Surely the time has come to put politics aside, just for once, and concentrate on delivering a plan that cares for the environment but does not destroy once vibrant parts of our country.

—Robyn Wheeler, Melbourne

By Country News on March 16, 2017

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