Friday, October 8, 2010

the Murray Darling thing

The Murray Darling Basin Plan draft will be released later today. News reports this morning are focusing on the possible negative effect this will have on agriculture in the largest water catchment system in Australia. This is in contrast to reports a few months ago which focused on the possibility of water buy-backs and the devastating effect not acting would have on the river system and the communities that live along it.

But will this apparently more cohesive plan actually have an effect on the way water is managed across all the eastern states and into South Australia? Allocation reductions will definitely have a drastic impact on the way business and agriculture is run in western NSW. There is potential for the plan to look like a Robin Hood operation, reducing the amount of water stations in south west of NSW and Cubbie Station on the QLD border can extract from the rivers.

the murray darling junction

To place another stress factor on already struggling rural communities seems unfair in the extreme, but if the environmental reports are to be believed, this is part of a last-ditch effort to save the entire system from extinction and keeping some of the largest grossing agricultural regions alive for future generations.
Where is the middle-ground where the two needs can meet in a compromise? Does a middle-ground even exist for this issue still, or have we already passed that point, and acting with drastic measures is the only way to go now?

The other thing that will be interesting to watch is the amount of airtime and inches paid to the report in the media, given the Murray Darling is a region largely removed from the average new consumer (and voter). Here’s hoping it’s recognised by all stakeholders as a report worth discussing and one that has the potential to change the direction of agriculture in Australia, an industry that historically has been and still remains one of the largest contributors to the GDP and exports for our economy.