Speak Up

Summing it Up

By Shelley Scoullar

The time between Christmas and New Year is always a good one to reflect on the year that was and the year that will be.

To be honest a year ago I would not have predicted the ups and downs of the year that has been, but I have certainly learnt a lot about people and politics. I often try to decipher why and how I came to be in the position I am, sometimes wishing that I was still blissfully unaware of the political wheeling and dealing of the Basin Plan and the poor science used to implement it.

However, it is hard to sit by as rural communities and hard working Aussie farmers like myself become victims of these city based ideologies voted on by people who rarely venture past the concrete jungle. Rather than be victims, rural communities need to better inform others of the unnecessary consequences which are playing out for the wrong reasons.

Which leads me to communities. There is no doubt the Murray Darling Basin Plan and its implementation has been designed to divide and conquer communities, which I have discovered first hand myself this year. On the one hand there are those who want to keep the negative consequences of the Basin Plan out of the public eye and are critical of the approach taken by Speak Up to highlight the flaws and injustices of the Basin Plan. Those who feel telling the truth is negative and prevents the region from forging ahead and attracting investors.

Then there are the other group of people. Those who stop me in the street or the supermarket and say “thanks” and tell me to keep up the great work. These are everyday hard working Aussies who believe in the value of fairness and having a go. They are the ones who want to get on with producing food (and fibre), they want to get water on their farms and get the job done. To them telling the truth is positive, it is standing up for the little guy and is about securing a future for the next generation. They want a Basin Plan based on outcomes and the truth.

Lastly, I think there is a final category. Those who are happy to trade their water, let it go to the highest bidder and take the season off. There is no doubt that some have benefited substantially from the Basin Plan, and have planned for it to be rolled out in full so that the consumptive pool will shrink, thereby increasing temporary prices and the value of their water entitlements without a drop of water making its way on farm.

So, with such a diverse range of perspectives within communities it is little wonder that people are confused and messages to government are not cohesive. With a new year days away it would be fabulous if 2018 was the year that united communities to put common sense and balance above everything else.