Sunday, 20 November 2011

Radical irrigators and mining interests exclude the rest of us from a say on the Murray-Darling Basin



From Ian Douglas, Co-ordinator of Fair Water Use ~~~


As promised, here are my thoughts subsequent to the meeting with the Federal  Minister for water on the 8th November:

It appears that the MDBA has settled on a mere 2,800GL reduction in diversions. However at the same time, they have approved an increase in 2,400GL in groundwater extractions: this is of prime significance to the coal seam gas industry, and results from pressure applied by the NSW Government.

The 2,800 figure appears to have been “reverse modelled” by the Authority – they seem to have selected this figure as being one that the red-neck but powerful section of the irrigation lobby might grudgingly accept (although they would go through the motion of vigorous objection and unfounded claims re community impacts).

The Authority then set about trying to show how the Plan would address the concerns of other stakeholders (dry land farmers, responsible irrigators, tourist industry etc). This is a cynical exercise and not supported by reputable science.

The Authority has yet to produce scientific evidence that the indicator site method being used to monitor the overall health of the river system is in any way valid.

I made the following points on behalf of FWU:

•       FWU believes that the Plan has been hijacked by a radical minority of the irrigation sector, and recently mining interests, and that all other stakeholders are being treated as peripheral to the debate.

•       FWU has concerns that the “localism” defined in the Draft Plan will exclude the majority of non-irrigating stakeholders from the local decision-making process.

•       FWU hopes that, once the Minister takes possession of the Draft Plan, he will make every effort to include all Australians – as the Plan is of national significance.

•       FWU requests that, to address understandable community resistance to change, the Minister accent the support to be offered to regional communities in their transition to reduced dependence on irrigation, and reminded him of the growth of non-irrigating business in the Basin.

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