Lessons to be learnt, but will we learn them?

By Country News

It has been heartening to see how border communities are working together to get sensible outcomes for the wider region as the impacts of government decisions on COVID-19 bear down.

Local government, media and other community leaders are all coming together to play their role and send messages to governments that border communities are unfairly wearing the pain of poor decisions and actions in other areas.

It is to be commended.

I have heard that some border businesses are facing 30 to 50 per cent downturns due to the current situation.

It is heartening that our leaders are working collaboratively to achieve some sensible changes that can ease this burden.

As someone who has been advocating for improved water policy and management for some time, I would like to see our politicians and the bureaucracy take note of how our border communities are working together during the COVID-19 crisis.

The implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has similarities to COVID-19 in the way it impacts rural communities — farmers are trying to survive without their most valuable resource, and small businesses have been forced to adjust as the revenue they traditionally received from farming communities is significantly diminished.

Governments have made knee jerk decisions without consulting with those impacted, and decisions are made from city offices where they don't come face-to-face with those who have been unfairly disadvantaged.

However, unlike the suddenness of COVID-19, the impacts of ill-advised water policy decisions have been taking place over many years, with some of these impacts still to be seen.

Already, thousands have lost their jobs.

Farmers have walked off the land in despair, as politicians who do not understand water management support poor decisions, or refuse to demand change.

Unlike COVID-19, unfortunately we have not had a combined effort from all facets of the community to right the wrongs.

Our leaders have been incapable of coming together, working through solutions and having them implemented for the benefit of food production, communities and the environment.

So out of the present gloom, there are lessons we could learn. Whether the desire to learn them exists will be the stumbling block.

Shelley Scoullar