AUSTRALIAN FIRES AND WATER

I have lost count of the number of times that Australian politicians have exclaimed “they cannot make it rain”, so does that mean we just accept the worsening droughts and do nothing. Surely, we are better than that. Moreover, low interest,or no interest loans, are not necessarily the answer when you are going out of business.

Why is the Government incapable of a coherent water policy?
I suggest they facilitate the formation of a water policy group, comprising various industry experts from relevant fields, to report back to Government within six months, on a recommended strategy. That strategy should be prioritised, and hopefully include estimated costings.This should be bipartisan if that is at all possible. The Nationals are the obvious party to take the lead on this but are seemingly bereft of creative ideas. Anyway, let’s not apportion blame but move forward with a positive agenda.

This could be a narrow or more wide ranging mandate. I suspect no one is going to solve the issues surrounding the Murray Darling overnight. The issue of water rights and their trading needs to be improved too. As water is a scarce natural resource, which farmers rely on, its probably time for the Government to take ownership of the issue. I hear you ask but could the Government do a good job of
that? Maybe not, but at the very least it needs to be regulated so price spikes are kept to regulatory maximums. Let’s at least acknowledge the system is failing at present for the very people who need it. Agriculture represents over 20 percent of GDP so the implications for the economy are obvious, let alone our exports. Perhaps consideration of a Government sponsored Agricultural Bank supported by the private sector might be warranted, especially given the importance of the sector and its needs, in both good times and bad.We have a Clean Energy Finance Corporation so why not an Agricultural Bank.

Fires are not unusual in Australia, but their intensity and early arrival in the summer season is concerning. Whether you believe climate change is driving this
doesn’t really matter, because it is happening irrespective and we need to deal with it accordingly. The fire authorities are doing a good job but a national plan is required to determine the allocation of resources. This issue is also directly related to the water priorities.

Fundamentally, we require leadership to address the issues. Whilst the Labour Party is immersed in naval gazing about why they lost the unlosable election, perhaps their efforts might better be invested in constructive debates about what is good for Australia’s future, especially on the water issue. What infrastructure is required, where and how should it be implemented. Maybe they might win some voters back in Queensland, which is exactly where they lost the last election. Allied to leadership, is the need for longevity in decisions rather than the here and now of current political decision making. NSW is the only State prepared to take a longer term view.

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