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Murray-Darling Basin: buy-back « Previous | |Next »
April 29, 2008

Maybe there is some movement on water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin under the Rudd Government. I see that Penny Wong, the Water Minister, holds to the view that we have been taking too much water out of the basin for far too long, that we have overdrawn the Murray and that we now need to restore the balance. The Rudd Government is going to address this by both spending $3 billion to buy back water rights in the Murray-Darling Basin, and saying that there will be no cuts to existing programs.

This only matches the amount committed by the former Howard government. The chance to spend more on buybacks has been passed by. So we still have ratio of $6 billion allocated to water infrastructure and just $3 billion for water buybacks.

What is new is the $1.5 billion in new spending to honour Labor election commitments: including $1 billion for urban water programs, including desalination, $250 million for water supplies in towns with a population of fewer than 50,000, and $250 million on improving the use of rainwater and grey water.

What is on the table is a 10-year, $12.9 billion plan entitled Water for the Future which Wong will release at the Australian Water Summit----the flagship forum for Australia’s $90 billion water industry--in Sydney.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:04 AM | | Comments (7)


Our politicians are famous for their overseas junk… oops, make that fact-finding-missions. How sobering it is to know that while overflying Australia they looked out of the window and saw how dry some of our rivers are. I sincerely hope that the planned AUD$3 billion doesn’t come out of the ‘patrol boats for Indonesia’ budget or the ‘new Mercedes cars for PNG government ministers’ budget. I bet more than a few Australians are in shock at the news that the Australian government will spend money on Australian projects.

I hope it doesn't come out of "screw the bush, the city has more political capital" fund.

Rumpole QC
They need to do something.
Climate change has steadily reduced the flow of water into the Murray Darling Basin. Over the past few years, 15 per cent of irrigated vines and trees have been taken out of production in the Murray irrigation area due to the reduced amount of water available.

This dryness of our rivers is compounded by the over-allocation of water licences.Currently, major banks and irrigation conglomerates are buying up water licences. They are moving to corner the market on water. The intention of the major irrigators is to get enough licences to ensure a minimum supply of water in times of shortage.

Nan, how right you are. The need to do something was evident in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and so on. Anyone with just a scant knowledge of this island of ours would surely know that. Our history is dotted with accounts of people and animals that perished because of a lack of water. The only people who aren’t familiar with our history are those lackwits masquerading as politicians. They’ve been busy sending our taxes overseas in the form of foreign aid while our own infrastructure has been neglected.

It is still a ratio of $6 billion allocated to irrigation water infrastructure and just $3 billion for water buybacks.

Bruce Haigh in the Canberra Times says:

Smaller producers are more likely to sell their [water] licences and this will be to the major irrigators and banks because they will pay more than the Government. Buying licences from smaller producers will make available cheap land to bigger producers which they can lease back to skilled but cash-strapped smaller producers, buy the shareholder crop and by so doing not only reduce their own risk but also ensure a return from the lease. If the crop fails it will be the leaseholder and not the owner who takes the risk.

I reckon that scenario is pretty accurate.

I can only agree with the Federal Opposition water spokesman Greg Hunt, when he says that the Rudd Government's $12.9 billion water plan was a rebadging of Howard government policy.