When John Howard announced in January 2007 that he was going to take over control of the Murray-Darling Basin and provide $10 Billion to do so, he had no idea of how this would happen, what needed to be done or how the money would be spent. He was responding to a series of wildly inaccurate claims made by a sensationalist driven media unconcerned with truth or reason.
This incursion of the Federal Government into the State’s constitutional right to the management of rivers and their water was driven only by politics in a run up to a Federal election. Sensationalist and mostly false claims were accepted and the fact that we were in a very long drought was no considered relevant. Emotional sophistry replaced truth and reason as it was claimed that our rivers were dying as the result of extraction by irrigators and lack of flow in the Murray was the cause of hyper salinity in the Coorong. Claims of dying river red gums, drying wetlands and species loss were repeated with graphic but mostly misleading detail.
The Result: Is a Plan that that is costing Governments both revenue and credibility as regional communities across the whole MDB are regressing. The businesses that grow, process and transport our food and fibre are being destroyed by the removal of the vital input of water and the Government inspired racket called the water market. Incredibly, the Plan is badly impacting the environment it is supposed to be assisting and genuine environmental issues are not being addressed.
What has happened is the removal of water from thousands of hectares of productive farmland that was also pristine habitat for aquatic species. Much of this habitat is in farmers cropping fields and run-off wetlands established by farmers over several generations.
Productive land is being rendered unproductive and as a result uninhabitable to aquatic species as water is removed only to be flushed to the sea, in the mistaken belief that this is beneficial to “The Environment;” demonstrating that those responsible have little understanding of what “The Environment” is.