Blame Game

By Shelley Scoullar

As our city cousins, and many who live in rural towns, tuned into 4 Corners on Monday night they were greeted with the open words “greedy irrigators”.

I have thought long and hard about Monday’s episode of 4 Corners, and I am not surprised that I was left disappointed and frustrated by a wasted opportunity by the ABC who had the ability and opportunity to present to city viewers a more balanced view of food producers.

Living in the most scrutinised and regulated system in the country, the Southern Basin, I would have thought that if the ABC presenter wanted to take that approach, the opening comment could have been “a few greedy irrigators”.

Don’t get me wrong, stealing is wrong, and should be punished, and if that is what has occurred I do not condone it. And the issue of water security for those downstream is a real and serious problem. The problem is that this noncompliance issue was limited to a few and it does not represent the majority, who are now tarred with the same brush. This was a media stunt to get more water to South Australia, it was not about the poor people on the Lower Darling.

Unfortunately, an opportunity was missed to report on the poor implementation of a national plan, that is based on false assumptions, and that has a massive section missing. Where was the report on the fact the Murray River never supplied the Coorong with fresh water? Or that the Lower Lakes were once estuarine, but are now fresh water. That Hindmarsh Island is littered with fresh water canals and occupied by politicians calling for more rural communities to be decimated by the removal of water to help maintain their lifestyle.

What every Australian should be thinking about is, what has this plan done to our small family farmers who care about their environment and business and want it to be left in a better state for the next generation? What about the small guys like me, who are passionate about their communities, employ locals and spend money in local businesses?  Yes, we want to make a profit, but not at the expense of honesty and the long term health of our environment. The Basin Plan has created an environment for the big end of town, the big corporates, to rule the roost and where do their profits go?? To shareholders and the next big purchase?

So, to all of you out there who enjoy the fresh food and fibre that is produced with pride, rest assured that the majority of us are doing the right thing. We are conscientious, efficient and honest, and care about the environment as much, if not more, than anyone.