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 Of droughts and flooding rains—and horrific bushfires!

10.09.19.  Dorothea Mackellar wrote of droughts and flooding rains, all of which have plagued rural Australia in recent times but not addressed is the damage caused by wild uncontrollable bushfires. Sydney radio 2GB with Alan Jones has aired the plight of many a farmer and rural resident with eyewitness accounts of fires. Alan has penned this piece in today’s Daily Telegraph.
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.
Horrific.
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.
Why?
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.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Pensioner Pete 10/09/2019, 7:27 am

    In the seventh year of drought out here and not far off entering our eighth year of drought, our rainfall since June 2019 is a grand total of 1.0 mm (one millimeter), total rainfall for the year so far is 196.4 mm compared to the so called average rainfall to date of 331.4 mm (BOM figures).

    The only reason the town has a water supply is the fact the river catchment goes all the way back to near Charters Towers, thus captures any rain which fall in that area of the catchment during the North Queensland wet season, if the rains go that far and are sufficient enough, at the time.

    The Queensland Labor Government are cutting all drought subsidies next year with nary a whimper from the LNP. Politicians of all flavors have very, very, occasionally flown in, got some media photo’s and immediately flown out, with the exception being Pauline Hanson who has been here many, many times discussing with the locals in the streets all the issues. She has often raised these issues in the Senate only to be ignored or ridiculed by Labor/Greens and the LNP, yet she is speaking for the people out here, raising their solutions to the problem, thus proving the utter contempt held for rural folk by Labor/Greens and the LNP.

    Properties have been de-stocked for years, the saleyards have not operated for years, another shop closed it’s doors forever last week, the last white goods shop closed it’s doors forever a few months ago, the economy in the district is shot. Suicides continue, the young leave town as youth unemployment is 60% and adult unemployment is not far behind.

    The Grey Nomads are now moving back to their homes as the outback heat approaches, we are grateful for their economic injection, however this economic injection lasts the winter season only.

    The Federal and State governments DO NOT CARE. With the focus on bushfires in southern Queensland and a mob of interlopers from Sri Lanka dominating the news cycles, what hope is there for any attention to the plight of farmers in the country?

    I read a story in the online Channel 9 news about how the drought is affecting a farmer in NSW, a drought now coming up to three years duration, it was stated they are in dire straits as they received only 10.0 mm (ten millimeters) of rain since June this year, so you can imagine how dire things are our here in forgotten outback Queensland when we received the princely sum of 1.0 mm (one millimeter) rain since June this year.

    Much wildlife has moved into town to get a feed, kangaroos live in the hospital grounds to feed on the grass there and wander around town feeding where they can find some grass. We don’t have to worry about bushfires here as there is absolutely nothing to burn. All this week so far has been lots of dust from the strong winds, anyone with asthma or respiratory ailments are in real strife at the moment.

    Despite all this, we will survive, the bastard governments have another think coming if they believe they can destroy rural industries and rural folk.

  • luk1955 10/09/2019, 7:42 am

    The facts are staring people in the face but the people are scared of the truth and are ignoring it. Our politicians are in hock to the international bank cartel and this destruction of our agricultural industries is part of the plan. Mainly to thin down the population. The major unitary party is involved, with the common aim of imposing slavery on the people. We cannot rely on the government, we have to fix this problem ourselves. BTW, where is the National Farmers Federation and other such groups who claim to be looking after the farmers? These groups are totally silent on what is happening to the farmers, so one has to wonder who is directing these groups to stay silent while the farmers are crippled.

  • Penguinite 10/09/2019, 7:59 am

    I can see Inter-State conflict erupting when water, that would naturally flow across borders, is reduced or stopped! The States must build more Dams!

    • Aktosplatz 10/09/2019, 9:35 am

      Power and water supply should be nationalised at Federal Level. Both are essential for our existence, rather than for luxury, and the National Government should assume control of it.

      The onus would be on them to assure continuity of quality supply. The states are not capable, and neither are private corporations.

      • C. Paul Barreira 10/09/2019, 11:33 am

        You may be right. Though on needs to bear in mind the stagnancy of the old PMG. The argument for government monopoly holds in the case of utilities. Or a private monopoly under strict regulation to treat all-comers equally (thus Google and the horrid Facebook etc.)

        What is curious here is that so-called “environmental flows” as an idea and imperative comes, probably, from academia and made regulatory law by bureaucrats and uncritical and likely incapable ministers and accepted by lazy parliaments.

        Regardless, whatever evolved as a government monopoly must be able to come under parliamentary scrutiny. Any such legislation, too, should have a sunset clause and at regular intervals its proponents show it to be of good service to the public in its various forms. Such won’t come from the present political classes (elected and unelected) unless and until the electorate takes matters seriously. For a guide to these matters read the book of Jeremiah as a philosophy text.

  • Jarrah 10/09/2019, 8:12 am

    I live in the Walcha Shire on the Northern Tablelands, and like many other areas the drought is extremely severe. Driving around the brown, parched landscape you see farm after farm with no stock, damns with no water and the brownness of despair. Farming support towns like Walcha also suffer hard as there is no money to spend. Meanwhile in Canberra all we hear is PC nonsense and nanny state crap while the real issues are pushed to the back burner, water storage cheap reliable power etc are pushed to the too hard lack of will department . We are still waiting for cheaper power prices etc but it seems politicians only pay us lip service while they feather their own nests. Until we get decent politicians this will always be the case. To be crude about it, we are seriously in the shit.

  • JK. 10/09/2019, 8:41 am

    Decent politicians? now there’s a novelty, it’s been a long time since we’ve had any of those that look after Australia first, instead of listening to the UN and the climate bull shit and stop handing out billions that should go to drought proofing this country and building power stations , and dams, but oh well we can keep dreaming. But as Jarrah said rightly, we are in deep shit with the fools running this country.

    • Lorraine 10/09/2019, 9:13 am

      we would be dead set a goner had Shorten Won, the pollies need a big idea in regards water and power…….Can Scomo and the Government 2019 get a lightbulb moment. Please pray they can

  • Aktosplatz 10/09/2019, 9:13 am

    What can I say? This willful destruction of the economy and the natural resources we have enjoyed, has come from an extremely malignant source. But who or what I have no idea.

    There are people in Federal and State politics that simply refuse to do the bleeding obvious to save our country. Two massive examples come to mind, one are dams (or rather lack of them) and the other is the use of coal for electrical power, as a quick start before going nuclear.

    But no, they won’t do that.

    These evasions are deliberate, but why is that?

    • DT 10/09/2019, 10:16 am

      Not even considering Thorium Molten Salts reactor technology now beginning to be considered in India and elsewhere.

      Australia has a substantial amount of the world’s Uranium reserves and also Thorium.

  • DT 10/09/2019, 10:14 am

    Water is too cheap.

    Minister for Water, Harbourside Mansion

    Desalination far better than building new dams. Agreed by Labor Greens and Liberal Nationals.

    Murray-Darling Basin Authority jacks of all trades, masters of none.

  • Albert 10/09/2019, 10:20 am

    As Jarrah says, “we are seriously in the shit”. One doesn’t have to be too bright to work out why that is so as observing the brain dead antics of politicians at work is enough to make you want to puke.
    I watched Tosh Friedandburnt during that regular mindless brawl that is laughably called ‘Question Time’ in parliament the other afternoon. It was obvious from his ranting and self-congratulations that he truly believes that he is the smartest person in town. In fact, he is a waste of time and money like the rest of his cronies on both sides of the political divide.
    I recall a time when everything we needed was made right here in Australia, a time when the dairy industry on the south coast of NSW was vibrant, productive and supplied all the dairy products we needed. I recall a time when the iron and steel producers in the Port Kembla precinct produced the finest quality steel in the world and employed tens of thousands of workers. I recall a time when white goods, textiles, clothing, shoes et al were produced in abundance.
    Where has all of that gone? It died because of the stupidity of politicians who couldn’t see the wood for the trees and bureaucrats who advised the governments and who were even more ignorant.
    Now we see the continuance of that stupidity and ignorance within governments that is killing off our farming industries and killing off the small rural towns that once thrived around them. Then we have the unions who, as they gained more and more power, drove up wages to the point that our industries became uncompetitive and either shut down or moved overseas.
    What governments are doing to the farming and agriculture industries through their short-sighted ignorance is criminal and they should be made to pay the price for that. Our country screams for water, for more dams and for an end to their criminal Federal Water Act but in response they send literally billions out of the country for stupid causes such as stopping climate change and the sea from rising.
    Last but not least, the people of this country must share the blame for the pathetic state of our country in that they have sat back and said little as profoundly self-serving and grossly ignorant politicians sold out on a once wonderful land.

    • Peter Sandery 11/09/2019, 10:28 am

      In relation to your ultimate paragraph, Albert, not only have they said little, they have “done” little in using their , won, not by our generation’s hard work , to exercise their democratic right to vote in a responsible manner. Therein lies the rub and, unfortunately, I cannot see that attitude changing before people like myself, Pensioner Pete and Lorraine shuffle off this mortal coil.

  • rob 10/09/2019, 1:30 pm

    I find it sad that the attitude of our politicians supporting anywhere west of the great dividing range being a non-issue that raises concern. All of their thinking goes into supporting minority groups and issues opposed to the most important things like nation building….building dams or piping water.
    I think they are too scared in making a decision to make it happen as they will never see the project finished in their political lifetime, too big and daunting…
    The people are crying out for water, reliable supply of water…..with water you can grow food for the rest of the world.
    I think the politician’s lack of ability to make hard decisions will see everything west of the GDR turn into a waste land owned by the Chinese when they buy the cheap land repossessed back by the banks.

  • ibbit 10/09/2019, 4:58 pm

    Australia has two problems, politicians and the urban/rural divide.
    Many urbanites don’t really want to know where their food comes from, just that it comes, and if it is imported, that is OK. Our politicians are mainly urban with scant understanding of rural life or matters and even less interest.
    Until politicians start tackling real issues and city types look up and realise how deeply they will be affected if the drought continues other and than donations are tasnsitory, nothing will change.
    Certainly not by government who have allowed private ownership of water and thus profiteers profiting as against farmers and rural towns.
    Sad to think during the Howard Government nothing was done about dams or energy security and that Turnbull was made Water Minister and we all know about the Murray/Darling fiasco. Add to that the the policy which saw the loss of much of our dairy industry and the harm governments do becomes very clear.
    So can we really think Labor would have been worse ,other than on the tax front?
    No government since Menzies and the Snowy Mountain scheme – for a reason other than the current one – no matter its shade, has done anything about either of these two. issues We are really in a bind which is blighting our country. Alan Jones would say our problems are created by government and he is right.

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