Water is a big topic of conversation in
Even Tasmanian, an island state below the rest of the country doesn’t escape. Some centres in the state are just two days away from officially documenting 2006 as their driest year ever.
The individual states have jurisdictions over their own waterways, but those same waterways don’t stop at state borders. The issue of managing the dry continent’s river systems is a constant sore point between states and the Federal Government.
Federal Agriculture Minister,
The states have had control of rivers since federation.
"The rivers that cross state boundaries and the water systems that flow into the major rivers ought to be under the principal control of the Commonwealth,"
But the real fear is being voiced by some state premiers:
You see, the
Is there really anything wrong with resource privatization? Most would say that depends on your philosophical view, but I would argue that the record of privatisation in
Let’s stick with water and a prime example. The map shows the vast inland river system which feeds much of the agricultural area west of the
The Murray/Darling River System feeds four eastern states, beginning in
At a place called
Frustrated farmers downstream in
But not even the nation's biggest irrigator is immune from what is now widely seen as the worst drought in the nation's history.
During infrequent floods, Cubbie is accused of diverting nearly the whole flow from nearby rivers into their holding dams. The water from those rivers is expected to feed the system further south, but it never reaches the NSW border, never mind the rest of the river system.
So we end up with another question: Can a country which is running out of water afford to support water hungry industries?
The private operators of Cubbie seem to think the industry should continue, even though they are in a desperate situation themselves. There is hardly any water left on the place. One dam now holds 400 megalitres, enough to plant about 350 hectares of cotton.
Despite the record drought affecting the country there are no moves at Cubbie to look at alternative crops or even specially developed ‘dry area’ cotton. They are fixed on their own vision of profit maximisation and have invested heavily in it. They are hardly likely to turn around and rethink their business plan, or care about the water needs of the rest of the country. They have the license; but they don’t have the water. (The picture shows the last puddle left in a massive farm dam.)
I’ve got nothing against
We could talk a lot more about water, we could go a lot deeper into the reasons why privatisation is so problematic; or we can just look at the many other examples and see that we really need some fresh thinking when it comes to resolving the enormous issues our societies face.