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Water politics « Previous | |Next »
September 10, 2003

According to a story in the Australian Financial Review (subscription required, 08 09 03, p. 6) farmers around Mildura are firming in their opposition to water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin. Theirs is a similar position to that defended by George Warne from Murray Irrigation in Southern NSW in recent months. For an indication of the latter's position see and here.

The argument of the Mildura irrigators is that the River Murray is not dying from overuse. The River Murray is not on life-support. It is in good shape. It is teeming with life. The irrigation infrastructure has ensured that water stayed in the river during the drought.

So there is no need for environmental flows because the river is not being degraded and it is not getting worse. If the River Murray is not getting worse, then there is no need to cut back on allocations to irrigators for environmental flows.

The evidence? Its not science. The River Murray looks okay from where I live and work in Mildura. That is considered enough to refute ecological science.

It's hardly a knockdown argument. It flies in the face of the Federal Governments' own National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.

The second strand of their argument is that the assumptions of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission's Living Murray's Project are flawed. This is advanced by Sussan (that's two 'ss') Levy to contest the broadsheet view that the River Murray is dying. She says that the proper way to view the River Murray is from the perspective of the agricultural production in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The continued viability of agriculture is the primary public policy concern, not environmental flows. Hence the resource needs to be carefully managed and better understood so as to get things under control. That will take care of the River

Why is this the proper way to view the River Murray? Because the River Murray is a resource and not an ecosystem. And that difference is the core bone of contention. When you put that together withe the dismissal of science in favour of personal observation you get the rejection of an ethically informed ecological science.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:51 PM | | Comments (0)