Do-gooder greenies compromise the Murray Darling with alarmism

There seems to be a pattern with greenies.

Although they profess to be saviours of Mother Nature, most of the time they just make it worse.

The mismanagement of one of Australia’s great natural wonders, the Murray Darling Basin, is an example of the pattern.

Or green politicians and bureaucrats conjured up a plan to “manage climate change impacts” and return the Basin to a “sustainably healthy river system”, which resulted in farmers having their irrigation water sacrificed downstream to maintain “environmental flows.”

Although this plan is implemented in the name of environmentalism, it has damaged the environment far more than if they’d just built dams.

What the activists don’t understand is that when explorer Charles Sturt discovered the Murray in the 1820s, he found a salt-infused, irregular waterway unsuitable for industrial agricultural production.

Only after the construction of the Hume Dam in 1936 and the allocation of 12,000GL out of the average annual flow of 34,000GL for irrigation, was the river transformed into a continuously flowing river responsible for 40% of the nation’s agricultural output.

Regardless of these positive changes, climate alarmists, including Tim Flannery, began demanding irrigation water be given up to ensure the Murray wasn’t threatened by salinity issues - ignoring the fact the Murray was more saline before the construction of dams for irrigation.

Buckling under pressure, the government separated water rights from land rights and purchased water from farmers for environmental purposes.

Later the Rudd government, gripped by climate alarmism, started claiming climate change will put the Murray into permanent droughtprompting his government to set aside $3.1 billion to purchase another 2750GL of the 12,000GL allocated to farmers, meaning they faced a 20% decrease in the amount of water they could use.

And none of this did any good for the Murray.

For example, the diversion of water downstream has resulted in South Australia’s once-saltwater Lower Lakes becoming freshwater.

As Chris Brooks of the Southern Riverina Irrigators said in 2018, ‘while drought cripples the eastern states, three barrages in the Lower Lakes remain open to the sea, with these lakes at 97 percent capacity.’

Ironically, this perfectly usable water which flows out to sea is desalinated at the Adelaide Desalination Plant.

What sort of ‘environmental’ policy diverts perfectly usable irrigation water downstream to once saltwater lakes, while flooding prime agricultural land and National Parks such as the Barmah Forest?

Then there were the fish deaths.

According to Tolarno Station farmer Kate Mcbride, the millions of fish deaths down the Lower Darling in 2019 were caused by “water mismanagement”.

McBride said “the Menindee Lakes were drained twice within four years, and each time it was drained, there was about seven to eight years of water which would have been a refuge for the fish.

Instead, much of the drained water evaporated, some was allocated for irrigation and 244GL were allocated for “environmental uses”.  

To make matters even worse, there are private companies with multi-million dollar speculations in water assets .

Duxton Water holds “$314 million of water assets.”

14% of water trading is conducted by entities who don’t own land.

And 10.4% of all water entitlements are foreign owned, with China owning 1.5x the water in Sydney Harbour.

As Justine Keech, the Vice-President of the Deniliquin Business Chamber told the ABC, the farmer is “not taking a punt on having to grow something – he’s got a sure bet by selling his water.”

And still many wonder why the regions can’t keep up with mounting unemployment, suicide, substance abuse and domestic violence.

It’s time Australia did something to address this injustice by giving farmers back their water.  

Perhaps if environmentalists divert their attention to a real problem for once, they’d achieve something more than stroking their own egos.