Nov 062006

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie is welcome to attend tomorrow’s crisis talks on the plight of the Murray Darling basin

ABC News Online.

It’s an afterthought, and a direct insult to the Premier of the State which has the most to offer to the Murray-Darling river system, through discussions on the massive water storage and catchement zones allocated to the cotton industry on the Queensland-NSW border.

In addition, this is yet another acknowledgement by the Prime Minstrel of something he distinctly avoids embracing. Climate Change (Global Warming).

For well over ten years the flow of the Murray-Darling river systems has been documented as failing. As being subject to greedly manipulation by those with the political clout to the detriment of those without. The massive cotton growing enterprises on the Queensland-NSW border – Clyde, Ballandool and Cubby Stations – have effectively strangled the flow of the Darling River by constructing water storage facilities for flood irrigation of cotton crops, which capture and retain more water than that held within Sydney Harbour. One only needed to have viewed a recent ABC television documentary series – “Two Men in a Tinny” to gain the understanding that effectively damming the Darling River system for selective and isolated agriculture has, and is destroying lives and livelihoods along a far more productive and larger catchement system in the Darling-Murrumbidgie river systems than has occurred to date along the Murray.

Certainly, the Murray river serves a vast agricultural region, not to mention provides water for many towns and cities along the way. Adelaide, Mildura, Broken Hill all draw their water from the Murray. However, without the Darling River……or rather with it, the Murray would not be as vital as it has been in the past and could easily be returned to what it was. In short, to ignore the combined nature of all of our waterways ignores the severity of the situation this country finds itself in due to climate change and associated drought.

Of course, there are other reasons for the Prime Minstrel to ignore the import of inviting Chairman Beattie to his water summit. Political reasons, surprise, surprise! Under great regional and economic pressure from local constituents and the owners of Cubby Station, the Queensland Government has been petitioned to involve itself in the auction and purchase of both Ballandool and Clyde cotton growing properties. The purchase of these properties by the Qld government was being seriously considered as a means of enabling the return of allocated water licences to river flows, rather than selling off the licences to bidders or allowing them to be sold with the properties. Strangely, the government of NSW, and somewhat predictably on ideology grounds on behalf of the federal government, have both refused to collaborate in the purchase for the greater good.

One really must ask just how seriously do our political representative take this water issue? Clearly, not seriously enough. Surely, water summits are gab-fests and little else, however without these gab-fests at the very least, major river systems like the Darling-Murrumbidgie will eventually, and judging from what was revealed on the recent ABC television documentary alluded to above, quite soon, vanish completely from our national network of waterways. Following along will be the lives and livelihoods of voters, dependant upon those systems. Surely, even a politician can understand the implications of ignoring all the avenues to be explored in preservation of Australia’s waterways.

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