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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

More on River Murray « Previous | |Next »
November 18, 2003

RiverMurraySA1.jpgThere is a comment in today's Australian that opens up what is normally remains hidden behind the bland press releases and the sound bites of ministers who have an eye on looking good before the court of public opinion.

The news item says that the South Australian Rann Government has ensured that irrigators will receive an extra 72 gigalitres from the Murray, due to better-than-average rainfall this year.

This has allowed South Australia, along with NSW, to ease restrictions by up to 10 per cent. So irrigators would be able to take up 95 per cent of their annual allocation of water. It had restricted them in June to 55 per cent of their allocation.

The comment that is of interest is the response to a question about where the the water for 500 gigalitres of environmental flows is going to come from. A spokesman for the South Australian Environment Minister John Hill said the source for the large water injection had not yet been decided. However, two possibilities were improvements in irrigation infrastructure, allowing the water savings to remain in the river, and going to the market and buying water. An then this:

'"That way only willing sellers would part with their water - leaving the high-value end of the market in South Australia largely immune," the spokesman said.'

The message? Though the Rann Government is concerned about the River Murray's health, it is the interests of irrigators dominate. We cannot upset the irrigators. That is the bottom line.

Why does this open up what is normally concealed? Consider these remarks by Warren Truss when calling on South Australia to increase its contribution to the river fund. SA, which is at the end of the river, and extracts only 6 per cent of total flows, has imposed a household levy of $30 to raise $79 million over four years as a contribution to river works.

'"I'm disappointed with South Australia's offer," Truss tells Inquirer [The Australian] "NSW and Victoria are putting in about double the amount of South Australia. South Australia's going to have to make a contribution, financially and in giving up water. We'll be looking for a proposal from South Australia for water savings. It can't just be a matter of demands on other states."

Now juxtapose the two comments.

For all its public rhetoric about saving the Murray, SA is concerned to protect its wineries. Water for development is its key concern: managing the river in a sustainable way so that we can continue making money out of it There is nothing said here about SA finding water for the River Murray, even though SA favours using most of the money on buying back users' water rights. In contrast Truss is wanting SA to give up some water for the River Murray.

No way says John Hill, the Environment Minister. He dismisses such comments as bizarre! Water savings must come from the eastern states. SA does not need to help to find environmental flows for the Coorong.

That is what sits hidden behind the press releases.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:20 AM | | Comments (1)


Tweedledum and Tweedledee Gary. With this slow death by a thousand cuts it's enough to make a man vote Green, so that at least he enjoys a lovely view before he starves and dies of thirst.