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This is not drought

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

OPINION

This is Hay, in the Riverina region of NSW, October long weekend, 2019.

This paddock is set up for irrigation and should be growing crops, instead of losing topsoil to the October winds.

This is what our countryside looks like, just three years after floodwaters crossed the same region.


This is a long post.


The Murrumbidgee River is barely five kilometres away but is no longer a thriving river and healthy ecosystem - this is what happens when our waterways are used as supply channels affected by decisions made thousands of miles away.Despite a regulated river system of expensive and extensive weirs and dams, designed to even out the natural flood/drought cycle, irrigators can access just 6% of their water licence, despite being charged for 100%.


This regulated system is designed to store water for dry periods; if its not happening, why not?This is inefficient, ineffective and uneconomical and will require us to import food and fibre from overseas, further weakening the industry, at a time when ‘Shop Local’ is being sprouted in cities.


This is what happens when Government separates water entitlements from land ownership. This is what happens when water becomes a tradable commodity.


Investors are entitled to earn a living from market trading, but not on water, which puts profit before food production. As an industry irrigators are an efficient user of water, because it makes good business sense to recycle and recirculate - it is time to stop blaming the people who know the most and work the hardest for water.


This is not an extended drought - in Hay we’ve seen much longer - so this is the time to ask why towns and waterways are dry. What’s happened that has rendered the system inoperable? There is enough water in Australia for everyone - producers, environment and cultural users - if we remove money from the equation.


This current situation - where whole towns have run out of water months ago and more more are soon facing the same - is because greed has been allowed to infiltrate decisions and corrupt the process.


Towns in Australia have or are running out of water. Have a think on that for a moment. Whole communities without water until a truck arrives - are you even able to imagine this being your reality. Why is this not causing an uproar?


This is what drives the suicide rate skyward in rural Australia and decimates country towns.This is why farmers and their families just walk away, with both savings and emotions depleted, taking children from local schools and dollars from small independent supermarkets.


This is a crisis for all of Australia but this is not drought.


This is mis-management.




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