Opinion

MDBA should be ashamed of its toxic plan

By Country News

What an incentive article (A year of achievement, by Murray-Darling Basin Authority chair Neil Andrew) in Country News on January 1.

The MDBA should be ashamed of its disconnection to the rural productive environment.

The current basin plan is toxic, irresponsible and politically driven only, which is currently destroying rural communities and our young future agricultural producers.

The existing political environment is embarrassing in more ways than one, emptying our rural communities that were once thriving and very productive.

It appears to me that water employs an enormous number of people in city industries and rural communities, government departments, non-productive and productive industries.

As our population grows so does the pressures of our living standard and the need and demand upon all our resources, especially water and energy supplies.

Why is there no discussion on creating more water and redirecting water into inland rivers, especially the Darling River (which has no apparent water catchment area) instead of removing water from existing productive areas that were designed to drought-proof Australia and create sustainable food bowls?

The Murray River is a controlled drain, so why not do the same to the Darling River?

The MDBA should invest more in the existing food bowls in rural Australia, making productivity more and more efficient, instead of removing water out of production and sending it out to sea.

Invest in research so food producers can produce food and fibre more and more sustainably and efficiently with less water.

The rice industry is a good example, through its research department, designing a sustainable rice variety that needs minimal water but yields well.

Food and fibre producers embrace all environmental and scientific recommendations that make their business more efficient and profitable otherwise they are ‘‘out the door’’.

The MDBA could regain respect by:

■Listening to the Speak Up campaign that is passionate about our rural communities.

■Developing an office in an empty shop in rural townships like political parties. This would suggest MDBA cares and concerned local citizens can express their views and create positive discussion in a neutral environment.

■Personally, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan should be renamed the ‘Murray and Darling Basin Plan’, because the issues associated with the northern basin and southern basin are very complex and diverse. Productivity, environments and existing rural communities are all varied and one plan will not suit all.

■Flexibility and transparency is absolutely necessary when understanding water ownership. Who owns the water? Is it the taxpayer, overseas investors, super funds, private individuals, aggressive city-based companies?

Should food and fibre producers have a set purchase rate instead of competing with these non-productive organisations/ individuals?

The cost of temporary water is overpriced. How can the efficient, world-respected Australian producer exist?

NSW still has zero water allocation but pays enormous fixed water charges for water they do not receive — ridiculous.

Imagine buying a car then having to pay extra dollars for its motor!

■The MDBA should halt the plan and really look at its current impact on the existing communities and rural industries, especially in the Riverina.

Seeing a fast flowing high river today is suicidal and concerning and is damaging local forest environments.

If the MDBA becomes engaged in our communities and respected local educated knowledge, we would not have this anguish, frustration and distrust that is causing much heartache and confusion for our future existence.

—Pam Wettenhall

Deniliquin