The federal government’s latest Murray-Darling plan is far from satisfying, particularly for farmers.
While the states argue among themselves and with the federal government, farmers will always be reluctant to give up water rights as it is the lifeblood of their existence.
Incentives for better irrigation and water use practices are well meaning, but there is a significant level of distrust among farmers, most of whom believe they will not be better off.
“I am from the government, and I am here to help” the joke goes.
The irony here is that the federal government needs the states to agree to the plan’s final formula, but the states are the major cause of the problems impacting on the ailing basin. Vested interests will always prevail.
For decades they have been deriving lucrative revenues from water allocation licences needed by primary producers and industry. We all know the basin can simply not cope with the demands being placed upon it.
The state are reluctant to give too much away.
What we also know is that unless something is done the Murray river system and its environmental significance will be lost.
Rivers that have run dry due to over use of their water are well documented in China. There, it would seem, environmental concerns are less important. China’s appetite for economic growth comes at a heavy environmental price.
Whether we like it or not, Australia has to learn to be more responsible with its meagre water resources.
Farming practices will have to change. This is not an endorsement of the government’s latest plan, but a realisation that as our population grows, as the world requires more food to
sustain itself, farming techniques and crop science will have to adapt to a very different set of environmental circumstances.
What crops are grown where and how precious water will be delivered to them are quickly becoming priorities.
Farmers and others will have to learn to do with less whether we like it or not.