Powered By Ypfree!

上海性息_上海顶级夜网论坛

Posted by admin on 2019-01-12 in 上海性息 with No Comments


The fight is on for control of Australia mightiest river system.

上海性息

Farmers from four states are coming to town to have their say.

The politicians, the farmers and the scientists come head to head as Insight tackles the rural water crisis.

We'll be hearing first hand from the farmers whose livelihood depends of the Murray Darling basin. We look at the stand-off between the states and the federal government. We'll also be asking the tough questions about how climate change will effect the long viability of farming into the future.

We've got farmers who have sold up, farmers who are sticking in there. We've got climate change sceptics and those who firmly believe the big dry is caused by climate change.

The future of our farming future depends on the Murray Darling – the land which provides 60 per cent of Australia's produce.


Transcript

JENNY BROCKIE: Tonight Insight will be talking about how to tackle the biggest water crisis this country has ever seen and about how to manage the Murray-Darling. But first, Skye Docherty has been to Mildura to talk to one grape grower who just doesn't trust the new federal plan.

DANNY LEE STORY:

REPORTER: Skye Docherty

40-degree days and very low rainfall hasn't stopped Mildura looking green and inviting. Water still flows freely. Danny has been farming in the region for 40 years.

DANNY LEE, GRAPE AND CITRUS FARMER, MILDURA REGION: Mildura's basically on desert. It's Mallee desert country. It gets its water totally from the Murray River.

In the middle of the worst drought in 100 years, the crops around Mildura are thriving.

DANNY LEE: We're in the middle of harvest, the whole district is at present, so we'll be harvesting probably over the next about the next three or four weeks we should be harvesting all of the grapes, and the citrus will commence harvest in the winter.

We rely on drip in this patch. Never quite got the bigger sprinkler irrigator vines got but the fruit quality's OK.

Danny thinks the unique decision taken by the State of Victoria to store water for farmers before allocating it has saved him from trouble this year. Just 10 minutes away Danny has another farm, but this one's across the border in NSW. Here, the State's water restrictions are so strong they're killing his crops.

DANNY LEE: That policy in NSW has brought us undone. But I will say that's the first time in 100 years that has occurred but that policy is forcing us to make some pretty dramatic management decisions at the moment.

Farmers in Mildura and the Sunraysia region are sceptically eyeing the Federal Government's proposal to take control of the Murray-Darling.

DANNY LEE: On the face of it, a $10 billion injection into the management of the Murray-Darling system is a welcome move. But on the other hand we've got some concerns that maybe putting all our eggs in one basket is a big risk. The Howard Government have a history of privatisation, they privatise most things that they believe the Government is struggling with, and the other side of politics – the Labor Party – have a particular preference to environment above all else. And we believe that you can have a mixture of the two but we appear to be confronted with either privatisation on one hand or the removal of irrigation in favour of the environment on the other.

They attempted to sell the Snowy Mountains scheme. Mr Turnbull's in charge of water, he's a merchant banker. His agenda has been privatise everything, bring in the private money, let the big boys run it, and they therefore are entitled to profit from that.

Unlike many farmers in South Australia and NSW, Danny reckons his State has managed the river well.

DANNY LEE: We're now on the 10th year of the most severe drought this nation's ever seen, or since white man's settlement, and we haven't run out of water yet.

Danny's views on the federal proposal are widely held in the region. Sultana farmer Malcolm Bennett.

MALCOLM BENNETT, SULTANA FARMER, MILDURA REGION: There certainly are concerns about privatisation and the centralisation of power. It's a pity that it seems to go from one bureaucracy to another. If a national system comes in, we might lose some of that water security.

Danny and Malcolm agree the river is over-allocated in other States but they don't really see the entire river management as their problem.

DANNY LEE: It's a severe drought. Our history shows us that's a normal cycle for Australia. Whether this one being a little worse is a start or result of climate change I really can't tell. It's a matter of speculation. Let's just hope that we're all wrong and it floods tomorrow.

JENNY BROCKIE: Well, welcome, Danny. Thanks for joining us. And welcome to all the other farmers here tonight too. I should point out to all of you that we had a commitment from the Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to speak with us all tonight but we were told quite late in the day that he wouldn't be available. He has nominated Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan in his place. Welcome to you too, Senator. But first, Danny Lee, I'm interested that at the end of that story you said you just hoped it would flood, which I gather was a bit of a throwaway line. but isn't that really part of the problem, that for too long we've all hoped this continent would somehow be something it isn't?

DANNY LEE: Of course, Jenny, yes, but that's the answer. The answer is not in who runs the rivers, the answer is we haven't got enough water and that's the result of drought or climate change, call it whatever you will, and until it rains it doesn't matter whether Mr Heffernan or his crew are in charge or the other side of politics, we haven't got any water. Till it rains the problem's going to stay.

JENNY BROCKIE: But you're doing quite well comparatively in Victoria to a lot of these other people here tonight. Now why shouldn't the system be rejigged in order to benefit the most people?

DANNY LEE: Well, Victoria's done nothing outside of the agreements which have stood in place in various forms for 100 years. Victoria hasn't breached its cap. It's managed its water extremely well, and the same can't be said for the other basin States.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you'd just like to keep the system you've got in Victoria and forget about everyone else, let everyone else sink or swim? They won't do either because there's no water.

DANNY LEE: And in hindsight, Jenny, Victoria won't have any water past autumn either. We've done very well from last year simply because Victoria has its next year's water supply in storage. That no longer exists. We'll be the same boat as NSW and South Australia and Queensland come another couple of months.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you clearly don't trust the Federal Government to fix this from where you sit?

DANNY LEE: The Federal Government have already demonstrated their ability or their willingness to privatise. The sale of the Snowy was a classic example. I think that's where they'll go with this. As soon as they get control, within a very, very short space of time you'll find that agenda back on the table.

JENNY BROCKIE: We'll get on to that particular issue a bit later on. But Bill Heffernan……

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN, LIBERAL, NSW: It was the States that wanted to privatise, with great respect to you. It was the Commonwealth that said we wouldn't. It was the States that actually wanted to privatise the Snowy.

JENNY BROCKIE: OK, how you going to convince him and other people like him to support the plan?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: I would have thought the Victorian Government would come to the table. I mean, obviously everybody tries to get a political edge out of this stuff but when somebody puts $10 billion on the table, it's a bit of money and there's no capacity for the States to put that sort of money up.

JENNY BROCKIE: Can you just quickly take us through the key thing that plan involves, the spending of $10 billion.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: I guess there's $3 billion for adjustment and efficiency, $6 billion for a range of other issues. There's about right across Australia $10 billion over 10 years to In the case of the Murray-Darling Basin, which has 24,000 gigalitres of run-off and about half of that diverted, and whichever way you add the sums up in the Murray-Darling Basin – because the system is completely over-allocated..

JENNY BROCKIE: OK, so you're saying this is actually about just making it fairer for everybody?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: This is making it fair dinkum for everyone.

JENNY BROCKIE: Keith MacFarlane, tell us where you're from in relation to where Danny is from. And can you understand his position?

KEITH MACFARLANE, CATTLE FARMER, WELLINGTON SA: Firstly, I'm from South Australia, on the edge of Lake Alexandrina, just after the… on the edge of the lake from down from where the river actually finishes and runs into the lake before it goes to the sea and

JENNY BROCKIE: So you're down the bottom of this process where other people are further up the line?

KEITH MACFARLANE: Yes. And no, I find it difficult to agree with Danny because I think that the longevity of the whole system relies on the whole system being managed as one, and Victoria are obviously holding off, I would say, for I'm not sure, but I would say that for a little bit better deal than what they can see is on the table at the moment.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what sort of deal do you feel you're getting at the moment?

KEITH MACFARLANE: Well, we're certainly getting a better deal than we ever have before.

JENNY BROCKIE: So more water going back into the river?

KEITH MACFARLANE: The big question have South Australia's point of view, or the big must, is that the mouth of the river must stay open. The river must keep flowing and for its life. We feel that any…if it stagnates any further, it will start to die.

JENNY BROCKIE: Phillip Mansell, what about you? You've been farming citrus in Bourke in NSW for the past 20 years. What's happened to your farm?

PHILLIP MANSELL, FORMER CITRUS FARMER, BOURKE NSW: Our stretch of the river on the Barwon-Darling is termed an 'unregulated' stretch of the river, meaning that there is no government control on that stretch of the river, they don't release any river from upstream storages for that stretch of the river, so we have approximately 800 acres of citrus and vines which have been doing extremely tough for some time, been allocating and prioritising water for the last six years and for the first time now for the last nearly 2.5 months, 3 months there has been no water at all on any plantings there.

JENNY BROCKIE: And so how do you feel about the plan?

PHILLIP MANSELL: Again, I'm not sure of the exact content of the plan. All I know is that we are in the one Murray-Darling Basin and that it absolutely has to be managed by one autonomous body.

JENNY BROCKIE: I'm interested in this because there are quite a lot of competing interests in this room, given that you're all at various points in this particular system. Phillip Jauncey, you have a big farm and food processing operation in Toowoomba in Queensland at the top of the Murray-Darling including, I gather, that precut broccoli that people use in their stir-fries. Is that right?

PHILLIP JAUNCEY, BROCCOLI FARMER, TOOWOOMBA, QLD: That's right.

JENNY BROCKIE: How are you faring first of all? Tell me how you're faring at the moment in the drought?

PHILLIP JAUNCEY: The Darling Downs is just as dry as any other part of the Murray-Darling system. We've been in drought now for probably 10 or 15 years. About 10 years ago the local community funded a project to look at the resources in the central Darling Downs area that included the Murray-Darling Basin Commission and the local DNR, and we're just wondering if all this is going to be done again.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you feel like you've put all the work in and it might all just be superseded?

PHILLIP JAUNCEY: Yeah, and there's a lot of there's a tremendous amount of knowledge in every part of the river system. Every community really knows their river system. It's really a matter of tying all this together.

JENNY BROCKIE: How much confidence do you have that this plan will address those things?

PHILLIP JAUNCEY: I guess so long as the politics don't become the key part of it. And it's always a bit worrying when these projects are brought out in an election year. It would have been really good if it had of been brought out straight after the election because then you'd know that politics really wasn't behind it. I think we do need to be looking at that – the autonomous, an autonomous body to study it that can – or to manage it, that can link in to all that local knowledge that's in every community up and down the river system.

JENNY BROCKIE: So lots of nods around. Jack.

JACK WARNOCK, COTTON FARMER, NARRABRI NSW: We're just as concerned as Phil is about the potential for more change that might come out of this new plan.

JENNY BROCKIE: Now you tell me where you're from.

JACK WARNOCK: I'm from Narrabri, we're cotton growers there and we've been involved for at least the last 8 to 10 years in very serious reform of the Namoi ground water system. We've been through hell and lost a lot of entitlements along the way. Some of our entitlement holders have lost 87%. It was not voluntary it was a very detailed and complicated process that's going to lead to some pretty hard times. But we've only just..

JENNY BROCKIE: A lot of people at home watching this are going to immediately hear that you're a cotton grower and that you've lost water, and they're going to know that cotton uses a lot of water and they're going to say, well, in a drought maybe that's right, maybe that should have happened.

JACK WARNOCK: Yeah, but the misinformation that comes from that story is alarming in itself because we're only entitled to use the water that's available. And what we've done in arriving at those big cuts in our ground water entitlements – which are supplying water not only to cotton but to other crops like lucerne and corn and other crops – that we've had to make those adjustments and we've started a 10-year plan just on 1 November.

JENNY BROCKIE: OK, so you've got much the same concern – that you're on a path and suddenly the path has shifted. Danny, are you convinced by any of these arguments that other people have, arguments here that, you know, that stand up in terms of wanting change, wanting some kind of change?

DANNY LEE: Everybody's got a good point, everyone's entitled to water. Victoria's no more entitled than anybody else. It's just that Victoria has had a very, very conservative water policy, which in hindsight has proven to be the one way we've got this far through the drought a little better than some other people. But we don't want anybody else's water, everyone's entitled to it the same as we are.

JENNY BROCKIE: Insight will look at how sustainable our farms are, given the drought and climate change and what that means for all of us. At the centre of this discussion is the Murray-Darling River system which provides a lot of the food we eat but has suffered up to a 50% reduction in flows. So what is happening to the people at the very bottom of the Murray-Darling River system, the people of South Australia? Here's Skye Docherty again.

DEATH OF A DAIRY:

REPORTER: Skye Docherty

Glenn Pitchford has just sold his last dairy cows. He's also sold his irrigation licence to an almond farmer upstream.

GLENN PITCHFORD, FORMER DAIRY FARMER, LAKE ALBERT SA: It was a very hard decision because my life ambition has been to be a dairy farmer. We've spent 10 years on this place building it up, and it's all for nothing. Our kids have been born here in Meningie, and Meningie's home. I would love to be able to stay here and run a profitable dairy farm. Dairy farming's getting harder all the time and with this water issue it's just another nail in the coffin.

Glenn's farm is at the very end of the Murray River, in South Australia. His water has been cut dramatically because of decreased flows in the Murray. Next year farmers think there will be no water for irrigation.

GLENN PITCHFORD: We borrowed a lot of money to purchase water and then it was cut back to 60%. We're not allowed to take water from the lakes to irrigate. At the moment we're not even sure if we can get stock and domestic water next year.

But it's not just farmers who are feeling the pinch. An hour away is the Coorong, a wetlands national park at the mouth of the Murray River. Because the Murray isn't flowing, no fresh water is entering the park. Fisherman Henry Jones's family has been fishing here for five generations.

HENRY JONES, FISHERMAN, COORONG SA: It really breaks my heart. I mean, it goes up there 127ks, two-thirds of its dead. Just 20 years ago it was live and thriving and productive and birds and, you know, the whole works. And now through just lack of water, it's dead. And the water would be like a desert. There's no aquatic plants, there's no fish, nothing – no living thing. In summertime there's a few brine shrimp but I think they've even died.

The Coorong is now three times saltier than the ocean and many endangered species native to this wetland are being threatened.

HENRY JONES: The barnacles are growing on our little mottle sand crabs. The mottle sand crab is a native to this area, and they grow all over his top and he just tips over and he just can't go anywhere, he can't right himself up so he dies.

Making matters even worse, Adelaide, a city which takes nearly all its water from the Murray, is running dry. Glenn Pitchford says people in his area are fleeing.

GLENN PITCHFORD: People are selling up. Probably five or six farms, neighbours of mine that are all for sale. Not all of them are dairy farms. This area is totally reliant on irrigation.

Glenn will soon be moving his family back to the Adelaide Hills. He's not sure what he'll do for a living but he knows his days as a dairy farmer are over.

GLENN PITCHFORD: I've lost my passion for dairy farming as well as lost all the energy I've put in to this farm over the last 10 years.

JENNY BROCKIE: Well, Glenn, thanks very much for joining us tonight as well. I want to put a proposition to you. You're at the bottom of a river in a country that's suffered drought after drought over the years. Was it ever viable, do you think, to be a dairy farmer in that context?

GLENN PITCHFORD: For sure. We buy water licence the same as anybody right through the Murray-Darling system, and it is viable. And a good analogy is the whole river system, I look at it is like a body and the blood of a body is the same as the water in the Murray system. They need it at the head, they need it in the middle and they need it down at the feet. We need it to survive. So everybody's entitled to it but we need it everywhere to survive.

JENNY BROCKIE: So how do you feel then, having sold up, about this new plan and about the new ideas about buying back licences and more infrastructure and so on?

GLENN PITCHFORD: I think it's the best thing that's happened for a long, long time because the State Governments have stuffed it up. They've over-allocated the water. At least we have one person or one group that can organise the system right through so that everybody can get a fair go, we can get environmental flows.

JENNY BROCKIE: But it's come too late for you, yes?

GLENN PITCHFORD: It's come too… Yeah. We're still young enough, we'll get into another business or do something but as far as dairying goes, yeah, we're finished. We won't be milking cows ever again.

JENNY BROCKIE: And are there many people around you who are doing the same thing or have done the same thing?

GLENN PITCHFORD: Yep. Next year we'll have zero allocation. There will be no irrigation on the peninsula where we live and so every farm will have the same problem.

JENNY BROCKIE: Bill Heffernan, if the Government's plan had been in place, would someone like Glenn have had a better chance of keeping his farm or would you have been theoretically looking to buy back licences in places like that?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Obviously there have been some serious blunders. We're talking the Murray-Darling Basin which has 6.2% of Australia's run-off. And as you know, I've been appointed to a task force to look at an area of Australia where 60% of Australia's water runs off. And obviously because of the over-allocation without a lot of science over the last 30 years, I mean, these are giveaway licences 30 years ago. The place is seriously overcommitted. And I feel sorry for this young fellow but I reckon it's a great opportunity for you in north, mate.

JENNY BROCKIE: We'll get on to that in a minute, Bill. I know you want all these farmers to move up north.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Can I say one of the problems with market power in the water market is the water's going to go to the dearer crop. I mean, it peaks at marijuana or somewhere like that but the dairy farmers, because Australians are prepared to pay more for bottled water than they are for bottled milk, the dairy farmer is the first cab off the rank that's going to lose his position. When you water your pasture, you pour milk into a bottle for 30 odd cents a litre and people like Coca-Cola make more money out of bottle water than they do out of Coca-Cola. I mean, it's just not a fair go for the dairy farmers.

JENNY BROCKIE: But your point about moving north I think we will get to a bit later on, so I'd like you to hang on to that. I know you're going to push You're just giving us a little headline. Lesley Fischer, you're a dairy farmer in the same area actually. I wonder… You're staying, why are you staying?

LESLEY FISCHER, DAIRY FARMER, LAKE ALBERT SA: I think the area's in my blood. I mean, I still…I still believe in the area, you know. We've done very well out of it. We milk 600 cows, but because of the water cut we've had 40% cut so we've had to sell 300 cows off already.

JENNY BROCKIE: So this is a cut in your water allocation?

LESLEY FISCHER: Our water, yeah. And our stock water as well has been cut. So when your stock water's cut you just have to get rid of stock as well. But I just feel for the young ones, I really do. You know, that really hit me. Just for us to sell 300 cows, put them on the truck and, you know, you put 30 years of genetics into those animals and they're beautiful animals, beautiful udders, you know, you put your life into it. I mean, dairy farmers do it because it's something it's in their blood, they love doing what they doing. Nobody else would do it twice a day every day, Christmas, no Easter holidays, anything, and they just do it because it's a passion. And it's a real technique to be a dairy farmer, you know. We look into the nutrition, the agronomy, what we feed them. All we want is water. And what we've done down on the lakes is we farm with the worst quality water. Everything that comes into the river we farm with it.

JENNY BROCKIE: So what do you think of these ideas of this change? Do you think it's a good thing

LESLEY FISCHER: I do. I mean, the States have had their go, they've stuffed it up. And for, you know, the Federal Government to take it on, well, someone's got to do something. I mean, at the moment the world's watching what's happening with our river. It's a major river and they're watching because if we kill this river, we're all gone.

JENNY BROCKIE: OK, I should point out too that we have invited the Victorian Premier Steve Bracks on to the program tonight and he wasn't available either to join us. We're talking about the health of river though. Richard Kingsford, you're an environmental scientist. How confident are you that the Federal Government plan to buy back water allocations, to improve infrastructure, to spend money on those sorts of things, how confident are you that that will improve the quality of the rivers?

PROFESSOR RICHARD KINGSFORD, UNIVERSITY OF NSW: Well, first of all we've heard a lot about the bottom end of the river but we're talking about lots of rivers that make up the Murray-Darling Basin and each one of those is in trouble. And some of those rivers go from Queensland to NSW, down to Victoria. And it's been a nonsense really ecologically, environmentally to have it cut up like a jigsaw puzzle. Essentially all of this is connected. Makes no difference to a Murray cod whether it goes past into South Australia or Victoria.

JENNY BROCKIE: Crosses the border.

PROFESSOR RICHARD KINGSFORD: Crosses the border. It's got to perhaps get up to Queensland. And yet we've got different language on different States managing this, different legislation, different policy. And we knew that when the Queensland Government then signed up to the Murray-Darling Basin cap in the mid '90s, they said, “We need to develop and we won't make the same mistakes you did.” And yet we see the Condamine, for example, the most northerly river basin, has had enormous impacts environmentally. So there are major issues and really ecologically, environmentally it's very important to have one single body that actually has jurisdiction. And that body must have not only hydrological expertise, which all State Governments have, but it needs to have some ecologists there who understand rivers.

JENNY BROCKIE: OK, Jonathan Mulligan, you're a cotton farmer from Moree in NSW. Can you see why it's important to put water back into the river? Forget about reallocating it from farmer to farmer, but what about putting water back in the river, can you see why that should be a priority?

JOHN MULLIGAN, COTTON FARMER, MOREE NSW: Absolutely. But the thing is if we haven't got any water we can't actually put any back in at all. We're surviving day to day as well as anyone. If we had 60% allocation we'd be really happy. We've had 10% allocation for the last five years. I can see the value..

JENNY BROCKIE: So you're saying the priority should be the water allocation to the farmers not water going back into the river?

JOHN MULLIGAN: No, not at all. I firmly believe the river has to have its share of the water, for sure, but the river dying or whatever down south in the Murray is not because of over-extraction at the moment. It's because there has been no water in any of the catchments for the last two or three years.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you don't think it's because of over-allocation?

JOHN MULLIGAN: No, I don't think it's because of over-allocation.

JENNY BROCKIE: What do other people think about that? Howard, yes?

HOWARD JONES,GRAPE FARMER, MILDURA VIC: It's quite obvious that the rivers are over-allocated because if you look at all the tributaries that come into the Murray system, every one of those tributaries has a terminal wetland on the confluence of those tributaries in the Murray. The further you go down the river the worse they are. 70% of the red gums are dead. And now where the confluence of the Murrumbidgee for instance, I'm seeing what I saw 3.5 year ago there. So I don't know how we can say that we haven't got our system over-allocated. My question is to Senator Heffernan is why aren't you going out and buying the water because there are willing sellers out there and we should be moving otherwise we're not going to have when it comes good we're still not going to be in a position to move forward.

JENNY BROCKIE: OK, but let's talk about this issue of acquisition of water licences because that's obviously a big issue. Now the Government's set aside money for that. Are you going to compulsory acquire them?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: The market will work out who's going to give up their water and there will be water returned to the system both through people who want to get out. And there's a good market except I'm hopeful that we'll keep the MISs out of the water market, I have to say, have to get that word in but..

JENNY BROCKIE: What is MISs?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Management Investment Schemes.

JENNY BROCKIE: You've got to stop this, Bill, you've got to spell it out for our audience at home.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: MIS farming is learn farming where you can make a profit without production. I won't go into that tonight but they're another threat to ordinary Australian farmers.

JENNY BROCKIE: But we're talking about buying back these water allocations. Now how is that going to work? Are you just going to rely on the market?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: The market will sort it out. If you're a dairy farmer and the water is, say, worth $2,000 or $1,000 a megalitre and you say to yourself, “Well, if I water the pasture, milk my cows and get 30 cents a litre, I'm better to sell that to someone who's growing grapes or whatever they're growing and cash it out.”

JENNY BROCKIE: Dan Hogan, what do you think about this? You're a former rice grower from Hay. You've been heavily involved in water politics. You've sold up. What would you advise the other farmers here to do now that this $3 billion is on the table?

DAN HOGAN, FORMER RICE FARMER: I think it's a fundamental resource allocation issue between the agricultural sector and the environment. The city politics is heavily in favour of the environment. The agricultural people don't have the much political power. If they're going to restructure the sector inside the Murray-Darling Basin, then they should pay due compensation. The process that has existed is nothing more than theft.

JENNY BROCKIE: What people are concerned about, Bill Heffernan, is that we've got the plan in the broadest possible terms but we haven't got the detail, we don't know the detail.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: And I guess that would be fair to say that in the next month or two those details will come forward. I mean, obviously the Victorian Government's got a bit of work to do to get its act into play but there is no question that the Government will stand in the market. There will be no compulsory acquisition but it's a great opportunity for anyone who wants to get out, to get out. And also for other people to get water and to further their own enterprise.

JENNY BROCKIE: Paul Kerin, you're an economist. Now you favour the privatisation of water, don't you, altogether? What would that mean for all these people here?

DR PAUL KERIN, MELBOURNE BUSINESS SCHOOL: I favour privatisation particularly of urban water utilities because privatisation elsewhere in the world has demonstrated that the private sector will use water much more efficiently. For example, in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s, almost 20 years ago, the British Government privatised all urban water utilities in Australia – sorry in the UK. The result was they invested much, much, much, more to actually improve and fix the urban allocation systems, leakage rates in pipes went down, for example. The River Thames which was an absolute disaster, that was reported several years ago that it was now more pristine than it was before the Industrial Revolution, and that was as a result of..

JENNY BROCKIE: But what about for an agricultural system?

DR PAUL KERIN: I think in the longer term, yes, I would favour privatisation in the rural sector. However I think there are bigger issues or more important issues before we do get there. And I think the biggest one is to free up the market so irrigators can actually trade their entitlements more freely. I agree with the buybacks, absolutely, but I think we need to go more… go further. We've talked a little bit about..

JENNY BROCKIE: But doesn't that just mean that giants like Macquarie Bank would end up buying up all the water licences? We're already seeing some of that.

DR PAUL KERIN: Whoever is prepared to pay the most for the water would get it under that system, and we've seen smaller irrigators buy that water.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Can I say there was one line in the National Water Initiative that talks about the dangers and the need to make sure that we didn't open the water market full speculation because I mean if you get a whole lot of carpetbaggers in the water market, which may be very..

JENNY BROCKIE: OK, so you're saying then privatisation is not on the table.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: No, well, full market power including full market speculation would be a danger to Australia's farming families because you would go..

JENNY BROCKIE: So it then becomes a question of what sort of controls and how do they operate?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Let me finish. You would go to tenant water farming and you would go to the spot market which would most definitely suit the bankers and all the financial instruments. I am opposed to that, have been for many years. I don't think the water market is something where you can allow full market power and full speculation like gold futures or something like that, I'm sorry.

JENNY BROCKIE: Alright, Paul.

DR PAUL KERIN: I think anyone who wishes to buy water should be able to. We can call them names if you like but that's not the point. There are people that are not carpetbaggers who I think we'd all agree with, I think, should be able to buy water, for example, urban water utilities should be able to buy rights from irrigators if they wish to. That would be make irrigators better off because the water entitlement prices would be better.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: I think anyone that is a legitimate water user – that includes the environment, farmers and urban users – are legitimate people to stand in market and buy water.

JENNY BROCKIE: Danny, this is what you're afraid of, isn't it? This man sitting next to you is what you're afraid of, isn't it?

DANNY LEE: Absolutely. We're playing straight into the hands of the Timbercorps and the Macquarie Banks of the world. In fact, you can relate back to the demise of our farming – forget the drought for a moment – to 1994 with the introduction of water trade. The separation of water and land, of which every government loves, was the beginning of the end for the family farm and the traditional use of water, which was never allocated in those days. From that moment we've been on the downward spiral and the water market will destroy us all.

JENNY BROCKIE: Paul, how do you feel about the Government allocating $6 billion to improve infrastructure then?

DR PAUL KERIN: I think that's largely a waste of money. I think the $3 billion spent on buybacks is terrific. So many people have agreed that water is over-allocated at the moment. That $3 billion is good. The remaining $7 billion, though, is largely on the supply side, it's about building infrastructure, and my view is what we really need to do is manage demand better and we manage demand better by actually letting the market work better. I grew up in Adelaide..

JENNY BROCKIE: How can the market work if there's a drought and climate change? How can the market actually deal with water effectively just all on its own?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: He's a banker, he doesn't have to worry about that.

DR PAUL KERIN: I'm not a banker at all, actually. But I should say, the scarcity at the moment raises the importance of actually letting the market work. We've got climate change, we've got drought, we've got very scarce water, we've got so many people who want it, the best way to actually make sure that water goes to the best uses is to free up the market so people can trade it better.

JENNY BROCKIE: Howard, you were nearly jumping out of your seat before. You grow grapes in Mildura, don't you?

HOWARD JONES: The market's working, the drought just focuses people's attention on the value of water. My concern here of course is, as Senator Heffernan is providing, and I'm fairly supportive, I think, of the Feds taking over, but they need to make sure that lots of the large irrigation companies have the opportunity They'll be targeted so what they need is to have an exit or a termination fee so that those stranded assets don't render those companies vulnerable. But the market's working, make no bones about that.

JENNY BROCKIE: So far we've talked about the drought. In a moment we're going to talk about the impact of climate change and the suggestion that our farmers should be chasing what water there is and heading north. Farmers from four States are talking about water. Traditionally a lack of water has been associated with drought but now climate change has entered the picture and I just wonder how worried everybody here is about climate change. Glenn, what about you? What do you think about climate change?

GLENN PITCHFORD: Climate change is a huge issue. I don't think it's had a direct effect on this drought and I was talking to a gentleman earlier who's an expert on this. The droughts come and go – it will rain again and the rivers will flow. And climate change does need to be addressed but we need to make sure that the flows are accurate and environmentally friendly for the future. And climate change will need to be managed along with the whole water situation.

JENNY BROCKIE: Hugh, what do you think? You're a wheat farmer from Hay in NSW. You've been hit hard by the drought. Have you factored climate change into your thinking?

HUGH MCLEAN, SHEEP FARMER, HAY NSW: Absolutely. I actually think the water debate and fixing the water problem is probably the simple problem to fix. I think climate change is much more threatening. As I said earlier, I've put quite a bit of money into improving water efficiencies and climate change would certainly a decision factor for me.

JENNY BROCKIE: Danny, climate change, a part of your thinking?

DANNY LEE: It's a drought. I can no more prove it's not climate change than the people who advocate it can prove that it is. A lot of anecdotal evidence out there to say that we've got a dry period, no-one can deny that. Whether it's drought or climate change is open to speculation.

JENNY BROCKIE: Will Steffen, you're the head of the Environment School at ANU and an Earth system scientist. Do we have any idea of how climate change could impact on the Murray-Darling on these people here?

PROFESSOR WILL STEFFEN, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Yes, we do. We do in a number of ways. First of all, even if the rainfall isn't changing, the fact that it's getting warmer means that evaporation rates are higher which means that you've got less water in the soil for growing your crop, growing your fodder, whatsoever. So that means that we know the droughts will become more severe simply because temperature's going up. The really difficult question is the drop in rainfall, the drought-related to climate change and I think the jury's still out on that, although the more we learn, the more we have evidence indeed there is a link between the drying trend, not just this particular drought. There's been a 50-year drying trend over eastern Australia just as there's been a 50-year wetting trend over the north-west of the continent. And we're getting growing evidence that these larger-scale longer-term trends are indeed related to climate change.

JENNY BROCKIE: So when you hear these discussions about water allocation and all the rest of it and new plans, what do you think?

PROFESSOR WILL STEFFEN: I think one of the things that definitely needs to be factored in that there's a risk, and a growing risk, that the science that we're studying is in fact right, and that means that, you're going to have to factor in a risk that the water supplies will continue to go down in the south-east and along the eastern seaboard of the continent.

JENNY BROCKIE: Phillip Mansell, Bourke's on its knees where you are, isn't it, at the moment? How do you feel when you hear that?

PHILLIP MANSELL: Look, I'm a bit out on the jury on climate change. Yes, we are in a drought but society now seems to think that two or three years is long-term.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you think this will pass?

PHILLIP MANSELL: Yes, I'm not saying there's not climate change happening, but this is a drought and Australia is a very cyclic country. It's a country of feast and famine. I think – I'd like to bring up one personal thing that I'd like to note. It may be a little bit off the track is I've had to move out of Bourke and come down to and work in the Sydney area. I've been down here for the last six weeks working and I just feel there's a huge lack of perspective that's happens in all of this, like the whole process. Basically every eastern seaboard capital city, bar Canberra, is not in the Murray-Darling Basin. It feeds from it in some instances for the actual water but for the goods that come from that.

DAN HOGAN: I've been in Sydney for four years, there's a huge disconnect between the perceptions in the cityWHERE the political votes are, and the reality in..

PHILLIP MANSELL: Absolutely.

JENNY BROCKIE: Is that what you're scared of?

PHILLIP MANSELL: It has to come into it because at the moment..

JENNY BROCKIE: When you said has to come into it, what has to happen?

PHILLIP MANSELL: I'm here – the materialism, the absolute focus of so many city people is on standard of living, is on their house, is all these things. All of those things use products, all of those products use water. That screw that they buy or the nail they buy to hammer into that bit of timber to improve their house is coming from the environment. You cannot give more water back to the environment in our Murray-Darling Basin and not pay the cost. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. There are no signs in our society, in Australia, of being prepared to pay the price of climate change of drought.

JENNY BROCKIE: Mark, you're shaking your head back there.

MARK ETHERIDGE, LAMB FARMER, WILCANNIA NSW: Yeah, I disagree. I've been doing a lot of trips to Sydney and Canberra lately and every cab driver I speak to talks about the demise of the Murray-Darling Basin. So I think the general public has a perception that we need to repair that damage and we talk about where water needs to be allocated. Water really firstly needs to be allocated to keep that system healthy and then if there's water left over we may look at other ways to use it.

JENNY BROCKIE: OK, Bill, over to you. You've been pushing to follow what water there is and for people to move north. Now, I want you to convince all these people here why they should move north as farmers.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Can I say this is not about moving people. This is about creating new opportunities and the market will sort out who goes up there.

JENNY BROCKIE: What evidence is there it will work? I mean, people have moved up there and we've heard lots of stories. I mean, Jack, you're nodding your head.

JACK WARNOCK: Yes, well of course we've seen the history of northern development come and go over the last series of decades. And those of us that know about it are not enthusiastic about going. The reality is that northern Australia is close to Asian markets but a long way from those that import fertilisers and other things that are necessary to make agriculture work. It's an extremely difficult environment to work in and some of us aren't very enthusiastic.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Where's the best place to be on a hot day these days on a farm? In the air-conditioned cab of your tractor, that's the best place to be. Times have changed. I mean, there is no question that there are great market opportunities in Asia and we've got to do things in Australia to keep our agriculture viable that the likes of South America, who have the potential to put us out of the beef market, things that we can't do. We're adjacent to the world's largest market.

JENNY BROCKIE: How do people here feel about this idea? Yes, up the back?

HUGH MCLEAN: In principle I agree with Bill – move production to where the water is – but in doing that, and you also mentioned Brazil which is a major global competitor. By moving production into another area are we only exporting potential environmental damage? Or if we were to import all our food from Brazil, we're only exporting environmental damage from Australia to Brazil.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: No I am not into importing from Brazil. Can I say that Australia has the world's best status in clean, green and free food production. We want to maintain that status. We have a great opportunity in Australia because there is going to be serious disadvantage, as a scientist will tell you, in southern Australia, there's going to be great advantage in northern Australia.

JENNY BROCKIE: I'd like to hear from some of the women here too, yes.

ALISON MCLEAN, SHEEP FARMER, HAY NSW: I'm Hugh's wife and also Senator Heffernan's neighbour. So if he wants to go to the north I think that's great, and we can buy next door. That would be great. I was just going to say on a serious point, though, I think in all this debate, a lot of the social impact gets left out. And for us we'd with lack of allocations this year, one of the farmers near us is looking at having to leave our area and they've got five kids, and that means that our school shuts down. So I think it's great to have all this debate but they need to think about the people who are affected by it as well.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you're obviously very upset about that.

MRS MCLEAN: Yes, I am actually. I was surprised. I was speaking to Lesley about this, and I said, “I'm not going to say anything because I get too upset when I speak,” but it is. Once they once they do this to us it wrecks our community. Our community stops when those people go.

JENNY BROCKIE: Paula, you must be seeing a lot of this at the moment in the work you do counselling rural families, yeah?

PAULA RUTTER, RURAL COUNCELLOR, DENILIQUIN NSW: Yes. And to have grown men just not burst into tears but the tears going down their face in the office, it's heart-wrenching. And it is the worry this year. Guys have just said they're just going to walk off this year if the drought doesn't break. Now that's drought issue, not water issue, but you know, if there is other spins on top of the drought it will really, really affect them, cripple them.

JENNY BROCKIE: I'd like to pick up on a point that was raised a bit earlier in wrapping up tonight. And Bill Heffernan, we've heard lots of competing interests here tonight. It is an election year. How can we trust any government, either Liberal, Labor, any colour at all, to look after water before they look after their re-election prospects?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Well, I would have thought there's as much danger in this electoral year as there is upside, given the cynicism of the electorate. But anyone that knows what I've been on about, I've been on about all this stuff for a long, long time. Ever since the first day I stood in Parliament I've been talking about the things that we're talking about here tonight. And I would have thought that the committee that I chair in the Parliament, which consists of everyone from Greens, Labor, Democrats, etcetera, the Rural Regional and Transport Committee, we do not play politics with people's livelihoods and we are seriously fair dinkum about making sure that Australia continues to have an energetic agricultural sector.

JENNY BROCKIE: You're not convincing Phillip Mansell over here.

PHILLIP MANSELL: No. As I say I'm from Bourke, might say was from Bourke temporarily but we are expendable. There is no votes in our area. Politics is driven by perception every time. I've learnt that over the last six years of dealing..

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: That's fair enough.

JENNY BROCKIE: Let him finish.

PHILLIP MANSELL: But the thing about the decision making and politics is the fact that it is driven by votes, votes are driven by what the people think, the people are fed perception by the media and it can be very disjointed from the truth.

JENNY BROCKIE: What do other people here think? Do other people have that fear?

MAN: Absolutely.

JENNY BROCKIE: Lots of nodding.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Can I just interrupt here, Jenny? One of the things I mean, there's no greater worry for Bourke and the blokes over the border in the lower Barwon than me. I get into more barnies on that. But one of the things that happened at Bourke is you blokes grew permanent plantings with temporary water.

PHILLIP MANSELL: No, I didn't have temporary water. We can get into that debate after because again, there's another misconception.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Should I say there's no such thing as high security water there.

JENNY BROCKIE: But what about the issue that some of the land that we're farming just shouldn't be being farmed? In a country like this, there are parts of the land that just should not be being farmed?

JACK WARNOCK: But don't forget that irrigated agriculture has a very small footprint on our landscape. It's generally utilised in the most nutritious, the most valuable land in our communities and it produces the food and fibre for our communities to exist on.

JENNY BROCKIE: Ian.

IAN BEARD, WATERMELON GROWER, CHINCHILLA QLD: That argument is a dry land problem. The situation with marginal land being degraded and everything, irrigation has the ability to concentrate it and do a good job on a small area. The big problems you're seeing with degradation is in dry land farming and this debate is about irrigation here tonight. The problem we've got here is that this – every now and again this debate keeps getting off the track. Bill's suggestion with the north, that's just a diversion – that can happen and everything can go well there for the future but this Murray-Darling is still going to be here when everybody moves up to the north. And people still want to go… want to live through that area and do well and make a living, an honest living where they don't have to have handouts. And the problem is also is that the cities, every city in Australia is pumping huge amounts of water into the sea. We don't hear anything about that tonight of trying to utilise that resource. Adelaide wants more water but it just keeps pumping it out the other end and, of course, as farmers we're being asked to tighten our belt and bring…hold back our allocation so that the water can end up being pumped away.

JENNY BROCKIE: Bill Heffernan, final question to you. When are we going to see more detail? You said in the next month or so, but on this issue of infrastructure, you're throwing $6 billion at infrastructure but who's going to get that infrastructure and when are we going to find out who gets it?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: Well, I mean, I can't be more definite than that because they haven't even got agreement amongst the States yet. As I'm advised in the next few months there certainly will be an instrument set up which has been agreed to by three of the States – the Victorians haven't agreed to it yet.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how confident are you Victoria's going to sign up eventually?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: They'll be bloody stupid if they don't.

JENNY BROCKIE: When we get that detail, can you convince Malcolm Turnbull to come in here and talk to these people?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: What about Peter Garrett, you know?

JENNY BROCKIE: Well, Peter Garrett too. I'm more than happy to have both of them.

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: He dogged it tonight.

JENNY BROCKIE: We're going to leave it there. Thanks very much indeed for joining Insight to all of you. Really good to have your company this evening.

« previous post

Thailand declares state of emergency

上海性息Thai PM Samak Sundaravej has declared a state of emergency and banned gatherings of more than five people after long-running protests turned violent.One person was killed and dozens injured when pro-and anti-government campaigners clashed on the streets of the country\'s capital, Bangkok, overnight....

next post »

John Martinkus and Tony Loughran In....

上海性息 GEORGE NEGUS: John, Tony, the latest development appears to be that Alexander Downer has spoken to Al-Jazeera, the Arab television network - we know that - and now the Wood family also wanting to talk to al-Jazeera to make their private appeal to the captors. The captors will be seeing this stuff. ...

No trackbacks yet.

Posts with similar tags

No post with similar tags yet.

Posts in similar categories

About Me Sample Title

This is a sample text about you. You may login and go to the Finojaho settings page and edit this text. Here you can display a summary of your website or anything that is interesting to your visitors. You also can disable this section completely. You have full control thru the settings page.