Sunday, November 05, 2006

Water Summit - November 2006

John Howard and his adviser on water, Malcolm Turnbull have called a "crisis" meeting with 3 states, NSW, South Asutralia and Victoria. The meeting is to discuss " ...actions to provide the best possible outcome for water users at this difficult time" and that the meeting would look at options for water delivery to towns during the current sever drought.

QUESTION: Why was not Queensland not invited? Its townspeople and farmers are also affected. Could it be that the headwaters of the Darling River are in SE Queensland and that those headwaters have previously had large amounts of water retained by the owners of cotton farms. Cubbie Station owners drew most of the floodwaters from another farm (Kelso), allowing it to operate with water not needing a licence, but which certainly affected flows into the Darling River system. The owners also made political donations to the Queensland National Party, including Senator Joyce. Mssrs Howard and Turnbull would not want water discussions involving Queensland!

Malcolm Turnbull stated that the meeting would consider solutions for all water users - town and horticultural. Horticultural crops, including grapes and olives need fairly constant supplies of water; and other crops such as cotton and rice need large amounts of water. I do not know how cotton farming is viable in traditionally dry-land areas such as Bourke. The last time Bourke had sufficient water for cotton farming was when it was flooded in 1990.

As part of the summit, I hope that our leaders also discuss the medium and longer-term viability of particular crops and land-use within the greater Murray-Darling Basin! I suspect they won't, because that would be politically unpopular. Popularity, not good policy, is driving politicians of both sides, and that is a shame for our democracy.

The Analyst

Sunday afternoon's TV Media were asking about why Queensland had not been invited.
By Monday morning, Mr Howard had invited them, saying it had been an oversight not to invite them.