Opinion

Letters to the Editor

By Country News

Trade deal is useless if we can’t grow food to export

While the introduction of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on December 30 is welcomed, it seems we still have governments which lack knowledge around the fundamentals of food and fibre production.

As Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham correctly says, the TPP opens up significant export opportunities that can benefit the entire nation. But unfortunately we cannot export what we cannot grow.

Successive governments have made a total mess of water policy, so we now have a ridiculous situation where water is being poured out to sea in South Australia, for no-one’s benefit, yet in the southern NSW food bowl our food producers are on a zero allocation and therefore growing very few summer crops.

This is crazy beyond belief, and added to the insanity is the fact we’ve had the Murray River breaking its banks and causing unnecessary environmental damage. The lucky country we might be — the smart country we certainly aren’t.

So while Mr Birmingham might spruik for his political gain the benefits of his TPP, those who are supposed to be rejoicing are instead scoffing at another wasted opportunity.

If Mr Birmingham and his colleagues were serious about increasing our food and fibre exports they would fix the diabolical mess that is called water policy, which would allow our farmers to do what they do best and at the same time make more effective use of infrastructure which has been built up over generations at huge cost to Australian taxpayers who, along with rural communities, are the big losers in this debacle.

—Linda Fawns

Deniliquin, NSW

 


It’s time to stop taking rural NSW for granted

As the world watched the stunning fireworks display on Sydney Harbour, those living over the Blue Mountains continue to battle drought, a plague of kangaroos, fires and a continuation of poorly thought out rural regional policies.

In the Murray (state) and Farrer (federal) electorates, it’s poor policies in water, forests and national park management.

The new year always brings the promise of an autumn break and hopefully this year a break from the political status quo. With two upcoming political elections it is time for us to evaluate the performance of our state and federal governments.

Unbelievably, after telling us it would never happen, our governments committed to holding course on water management despite fish and bird kills in the Darling, starving kangaroos and brumbies marooned in floodwater, and blue green algae blooms in our rivers and lakes posing serious risks to everyone’s health.

Apparently they’re still prepared to flush rural regional NSW, despite building evidence that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is impractical and is seriously impacting on our way of life.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the NSW Government have not learned that rapidly draining water reserves in the Menindee Lakes will place big risks for the people and wildlife along the Darling.

Drying down other creeks will cause fish and bird kills and place the livelihoods of many at jeopardy. Artificially flooding areas kills plants and animals, damages river banks and breeds carp.

The best that Niall Blair can offer is to relocate the MDBA to an irrigation area in regional NSW. That’s just like shifting deck chairs on the Titanic — too little, too late.

It is time to have a national conversation about whether we are prepared to continue spending billions of dollars and sacrifice inland NSW environments to save the Coorong which has been in decline and poorly managed by SA since the 1880s.

It’s also time to stop bowing to vague threats about the lesser of two evils. We’ve been accepting that for three decades and it’s not working. It’s time to send a clear message to stop taking rural NSW for granted.

—Helen Dalton

Binya, NSW