Opinion

No peace for our weary irrigators

By Country News

I’m sure Murray-Darling Basin Authority chairman Neil Andrew can sleep soundly at night, knowing his organisation is following the rules, as he highlighted in Country News recently.

Unfortunately, those who are the sacrificial lambs for these poorly developed rules are not sleeping quite as well.

Instead, they’re worrying about how they are going to cover the next bank payment, or stressing over the crops that are dying in the paddocks, not to mention their concerns over whether their family farm — many handed down over generations — is going to be viable in the future.

But don’t you worry Mr Andrew, because you and your MDBA colleagues will be safe in the knowledge you’re following the rules.

Let’s forget about the fact these rules were developed around a basin plan that promised a balance to ensure we did not have adverse social and economic impacts.

Let’s also forget that your state, South Australia, has been complicit in developing rules that suit its political agenda at the expense of Victoria and NSW.

And we won’t worry about the fact that while our crops die and our communities suffer, your precious state continually refuses to be an active player in basin plan solutions.

After all, you have all the water you need, whether it’s for irrigation (while you’re on 100 per cent, we’re on zero), water-front housing developments, recreation — the list goes on.

Also, please do not give us the line about needing to keep the dams virtually full (Dartmouth is at nearly 90 per cent) for future environmental flows. Since when did forests need a flood four years in five?

As for interfering in the water market, that happened a long time ago thanks to the basin plan and has led to expensive temporary water that the average farmer in our region cannot afford. Numerous independent reports have shown up this fact.

But never mind. As I say, what’s important is that those who follow the rules, as Mr Andrew insists we must do, are comfortable with the consequences these rules have created.

The fact they have been developed with a string of broken government promises (how about the promise that in dry times, environmental water would be tradeable?) is irrelevant.

Anyway, I must go. It’s time for bed. Just hope I can get some sleep.

—Chris Brooks

Barooga, NSW