Blog - Water is life
Posted on Friday, 16 December 2011
One of the worst features of so many environmental debates is the prejudice against farmers.
Farmers earn their living from the land. They have a vested interest in looking after it because ruined land means a ruined business.
Sure, past farm methods left a lot to be desired – but so did past manufacturing techniques, past waste disposal methods and past householder practices.
My point is that farmers, as a group, have always tried to operate in accordance with the best environmental practices of their day because they have wanted the best from their land and unlike most of us, every day of their working lives farmers are closely observing their impact on the environment.
The Gillard government often gives the impression that it thinks that Australian farmers, foresters and fishermen are environmental vandals.
The Prime Minister shouldn’t let her indebtedness to Bob Brown and the Greens lead to this kind of group defamation.
I have just returned from Griffith where it was my privilege to attend the largest public gathering I have been to, other than a sporting event or a papal mass.
About 7,000 local people packed into the Yoogalli Club and its surrounds to tell the Murray-Darling Basin Authority that it was right to put more water back into the river but that equal consideration should be given to saving people’s jobs.
Perhaps the most moving moment was when one speaker invited onto the floor representatives of all the businesses which were dependent on her family farm.
Eventually, there were dozens of people standing because every business and every family’s livelihood depends upon so many other businesses and so many other families.
We are all connected to almost everyone else, economically, as well as socially and culturally and all are diminished when one is.
The current draft Murray-Darling Basin plan means returning to the river about a third of the water currently used for irrigation. With strategic buy-backs and intelligent infrastructure improvements there’s little doubt that much can be achieved but done badly this could devastate the economy of Australia’s greatest food bowl.
Could you trust the government which couldn’t put pink batts into roofs without burning houses down and couldn’t build school halls without rip-off after rip-off to get this right?
Could you trust the government that virtually closed down the live cattle trade in a panicked over-reaction to a TV programme; is considering banning fishing in many of our coastal oceans and is slowly strangling the Tasmanian forestry industry not to stuff this up too?
These, I’m sure, were the questions on most people’s minds.
The people of Griffith and the rest of the Basin can’t continue to live and work without water for irrigation.
For Bob Brown, water is a hobby.
For them, water is life. That’s why the government should be listening more to them and less to the Greens.
As far as the Coalition is concerned, they will be heard.
16 December 2011