The federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg keeps telling us that the “policy settings” are right. Last weekend there was a meeting in Sydney of the State Council of the Liberal Party. There was plenty of self-congratulation over recent victories in the State and Federal elections. Yet there was not a word about what is the greatest crisis amid many crises facing this country at the moment — the rural crisis.Source: Alan Jones, The Daily Telegraph
Government and banks must hear the plea of our farmer
The reason it was not mentioned is that politicians, to use the cliche, talk the talk but rarely walk the walk.
There was a protest last week in Tocumwal on the NSW/Victorian border demanding that governments amend the ridiculous Murray Darling Basin Plan.
Farmers, who are going broke, if they aren’t already broke, are watching water flow past their back gate and they have had a gutful of governments speaking about environmental flows as if farmers and farms were not part of the environment.
The Murray Darling Basin Plan is a disgrace.
But Sussan Ley, the local member for the very big electorate of Farrer, wasn’t there. David Littleproud, for whom modesty should admit that he knows little about the issue, other than what bureaucrats tell him, wasn’t there.
The Murray Darling Basin Authority, a product of a Federal Water Act that should be thrown in the bin, is manned by more than 400 inexperienced and water-unaware people who know absolutely nothing except some vague idea that licences to irrigate must no longer be attached to land that can be irrigated.
Yesterday we learned, again, of an outfit called Duxton Water which owns entitlements to 74 billion litres of water, the equivalent of the Woronora Dam near Sydney, and it openly states its “primary objective” is to “generate annual income through capitalising on the increasing demand for scarce water resources.”
This outfit don’t own land but rather than selling all of its water allocation each year, Duxton “carries over” or holds back substantial amounts of water on the assumption, no doubt, that increased water scarcity will make water even more valuable the following year.
The horticultural industry have written to Federal Minister Littleproud arguing that water trading has pushed up the long term average price of water from $135 a megalitre to $800 a megalitre.
THE TOWNS ARE DYING
Understandably, the Government is being asked to ban people who don’t own land from buying water.
How hard is that?
In the middle of all of this, the federal government also owns water — two thousand gigalitres of it, four Sydney Harbours, while the agriculture industry along the Murray Darling is dying — the dairy industry, the washed potato industry, the corn industry, the rice industry.
When industries die, towns die.
Deniliquin has lost more than people out of its population of over 7000. More than 100 businesses have closed in Griffith. In Leeton there are more than 30 shops which have closed in the main street.
The Public school in Wakool has gone from over 100 students to 13.
Towns like Coleambally, Finley and Balranald are dying.
Houses and businesses are unsaleable, all a consequence of government policy which is vandalising rural economic activity.
I was in Queensland at the weekend. When I landed in Brisbane, it looked like the end of the world.
Dust storms everywhere.
A dust storm isn’t just dust. It’s somebody’s top soil. It’s their best paddock. It is the silt from the bottom of their biggest empty dam.
A dust storm is metaphorically the tears of the bush, blowing in the wind.
This is no longer a drought. You can talk environmental flows until you are blue in the face, but what is happening west of the Great Dividing Range is something that can no longer be casually dismissed as a drought, glibly arguing: “There are always droughts in Australia”.
This is a profound natural disaster. It is time governments stopped the self-congratulation about “getting the policy settings right” and took the blinkers off.
This is rapidly becoming a national crisis on a scale we have never witnessed in our recent history.
And while the “elites” and the media and politicians talk about abortion, Labor corruption, transgender and refugees, the heartland of this country has been consumed day after day by a monster.
Every farmer is losing his irreplaceable genetics — livestock and livelihoods.
They will not have the financial muscle or, more importantly, the psychological muscle to ever come back.
It is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in our lifetime and I have lived through drought.
Ask 90-year-old farmers. They will tell you.
It feels as if the land is dying, north, east, south and west.
And the nation just holds up the clinical green screen and looks the other way.
Will the desperation, the pain and the loss being experienced by these people, consumed by drought, offend the delicate feelings of a nation?
Or is it that politicians, and our prime minister, really don’t care.
They say they do.