No rest for farmers
Before long our politicians and their staff, along with the numerous public servants who are charged with policy decisions and implementation, will take their Christmas break.
Some may take a bit of extra time-off this year, with Christmas Day and New Year’s Day on a Tuesday, making it easy to take a couple of flexi days and extend the break.
They will also have their holiday in comfort, knowing their job and secure income will be waiting for their return.
Unfortunately, the decisions they make can have a vastly different impact on their fellow Australians.
Take those who work for SunRice, in the Riverina, for example. It has announced 100 job losses as it restructures to cope with one of the lowest summer crops in history.
Meanwhile, in other parts of southern NSW and northern Victoria, dairy farmers are culling herds and walking off their farms.
This is all occurring because our decision-makers insist that no allocation of water should be given to southern NSW food and fibre producers, while those in Victoria are faced with exorbitant water prices.
At the same time the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers are running high with the Murray above capacity, forcing desperate farmers to watch nearby forests flood while their paddocks turn to dust.
In fact, roughly 200000Ml, or 40 per cent of Sydney Harbour, has unintentionally spilled into the forests because the river is not being operated efficiently.
Due to outdated rules which haven’t been updated despite significant changes in recent years to water delivery, these river losses come out of the food producing bucket.
That’s food that could be grown to support all Australians, regardless of where you live.
This is devastating for farmers who want to grow the produce needed by our nation and the rest of the world.
As a consequence we are now dealing with a whole range of associated issues including increased mental health problems, severe financial stress and, in some cases, bankruptcy.
This is all being caused because the politicians and bureaucrats in charge of water policy development and implementation are refusing to listen to those who live and breathe their local environment, nor will they come to the table and work on effective solutions that ensure there is plenty of water for the environment, food production and South Australia.
Even in times of drought we can all survive if we get the balance right; at present it’s not.
I call on Federal Water Minister David Littleproud, a country guy from Chinchilla who I am sure knows the devastation caused by the loss of 100 jobs in a small town, to step up and provide some protection to our rural communities.
It can be as simple as demanding his staff — before they go on holidays — work on rule changes to return the wasted 200000Ml to farm production.
We’re a long way from Chinchilla, but we feel the pain of unnecessary lost jobs in the same way.
Riverina can only secure its future by leaving NSW
A mistake that many people in the irrigated agriculture and forestry industries make when dealing with politicians and bureaucrats is that they assume they are dealing with reasonable people similar to themselves.
In fact, they are not dealing with reasonable people; they are dealing with political people.
Politicians generally make decisions based on what they think will get themselves re-elected.
These decisions are not necessarily attached to facts, figures, honesty or truth.
Bureaucrats are effectively employed by politicians and make decisions based on their paymasters’ commands.
Ultimately, the resolution of problems with irrigated agriculture and forestry require positive political decisions.
Yet three-quarters of the population of NSW lives in the environs of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, and they elect three-quarters of state politicians.
These people and politicians have no agricultural or forestry interests, and in the 2015 state election 11 per cent actually voted for The Greens.
The Greens, of course, are actively opposed to irrigation and forestry.
By reason of political numbers, it is not possible to make decisions favourable to the irrigation and forestry industries in NSW.
The people of the Riverina need to form a state separate from NSW.
Only by forming a separate state can the domination of metropolitan politicians be escaped, and only then can decisions beneficial to irrigated agriculture and forestry, and by extension beneficial to all the people, be made.