Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Water Summit Held

7-Nov (Melbourne Cup Day)

The water summit involving NSW, SA, Queensland and the Prime Minister was held this morning.

My previous Posting was at: http://truepolitik.blogspot.com/2006/11/water-summit-

The results are:
  • "permanent water trading" will be allowed from 1 January 2007 (brought forward from 1 July 2007). But will this help?? Minimally, if some farmers decide not to exercise their water rights this year. Will it help in the long term??

  • SA Premier Rann announced that SA will build a wier at Wellington to supply Adelaide if (when?) water runs out. Wiers hold minimal amounts of water, perhaps a week on water restrictions.

  • Drought relief for small businesses in drought-affected areas. This is a welcome move, since regional centres have business affected by farmers lack of spending money: for necessities, for farm equipment, for farm chemicals, for seed and feed.

  • An inquiry led by the Dept of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and CSIRO. A report is due within 12 months.

The Summit has produced a morning's woth of talk, the promise of relief for some small businesses and the promise of a report. At least the politicians grasp the magnitude of the problem, after listening to scientsts report that this could be a 1-in-1000-year drought.

The net effects? Very little. The drought relief for small businesses is socially worthwhile. Water trading will do little in times when there is little water, and would be largely unnecessary in times of plenty. There was no proposal to release water from the Snowy Hydroelectric Scheme: like the Murray-Darling System, it has little water (less than 20%). In fact it has the least amount of water since its completion in 1973!

An inquiry will produce a scientific document, possibly corrupted to suit government policies. (remember that there has been prior controversy about Government influence on elements parts of CSIRO operations) By controlling the inquiry from his Department, The Prime Minister could just have taken control for water from the States. The Constitution gave the States the responsibility.

The Analyst