Opinion

It’s time to address the cause of our water problem

By Rodney Woods

The Bishop of Riverina Donald Kirk has described water as “the essence of life” and argued that the water market is infringing on the spiritual needs of people in the Murray-Darling Basin.

According to an ABC report, in his opening address at the diocese of Riverina’s annual synod, the Bishop stressed that water should not simply be available to the people with the deepest pockets.

He has spoken out against water trading and emphasised there is a need to “act now”.

He said: “We need to care for the people on the land now … the basic need for people to be able to survive and stay on the land.

“We’ve lost sight of what water is; it’s not a commodity, it the very essence of life, we cannot survive without water.”

Bishop Kirk, like all of us, sees the ongoing damage from our Federal Government’s failed water management, in particular the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Yet we continue to have a water minister in denial, acknowledging the plan is not perfect but it’s the best we’ve got so we will plough on and deliver it “in full and on time” regardless of the damage it is causing.

What a sad and sorry state we have in our nation when a federal minister and his government is unwilling to admit that mistakes have been made, nor have the courage to take the steps necessary to rectify it.

Meanwhile, farmers and communities which rely on them are sacrificed like lambs to the slaughter, because the political ramifications of decisive action may be too great.

Jobs are lost, livelihoods are ruined and mental health issues increase at an astronomical rate, yet all we get from government is money for mental health forums. Why can’t we address the cause of the problem?

There are short and long term solutions that could save farmers and communities, if only we had a government that would listen.

An emergency allocation would be a start; halting the unfair situation where all conveyance losses are debited to the productive pool would also be a significant step.

Then there are issues like stopping the unnatural and unnecessary flooding of forests which is causing environmental damage, and addressing some of the evaporation and water wastage at the end of the system. And these are just a start.

But all we get are the well-paid bureaucrats and the water minister telling us that everything is fine; let’s keep going with this ‘plan’.

It is for the above reasons that I will be joining the Convoy to Canberra on December 2 and 3.

We need the prime minister to intervene and ‘can the plan’ so Murray-Darling Basin Plan 2.0 can be developed, next time around achieving the right balance in water management that protects our farmers, communities, environment and national food security.

Bishop Kirk, like so many of us, sees the destruction from the current policies. It is time for change.

Linda Fawns

Deniliquin