Some submissions to the MDBA by individual SPA members:
I am adamant in my conviction that we must return greater flows of water to the MDB rivers and wetlands in accordance with the plan. The science has been done, checked and rechecked. There is no point revisiting the science in the hope of finding an easy answer. You cannot negotiate with the environment to meet a political compromise. It is what it is.
This issue is much bigger than just the MDB. The MDB is a test case in which man must stop taking from the environment as though there was no natural limit. It means that we all have to accept the short term personal pain and financial costs to prevent a longer term but far worse disaster. If we fail in this test case because of small pressure/political groups what hope have we of addressing our carbon emissions? We must also address the underlying cause – our over population. A growing population needs more food and ever more water. Australia’s ability to live within its means is on the line here and the more our population grows the greater is the risk that our children will face an unprecedented disaster when the oil, fertilisers, water and arable lands start to run out.
We cannot, we must not fail here.
I would like to express my support for the proposed plan to return greater flows of water to the MDB rivers and wetlands. I believe it is important to recognise that there is a limit to the productive capacity of any geographical area. This limit has been largely ignored in past decades resulting in increased agricultural production .This has provided the illusion that such high levels of production could be sustained, but the health of rivers and wetlands is telling a different story. While I have a good measure of sympathy for those who have staked their futures on the continuation of this tempting illusion, I believe their arguments are insufficiently reasoned to justify the continuation of unsustainably high levels of water extraction. The plan involves returning the minimum amounts of water needed to restore the basin to a state of ecological health and resilience. As it is described as being the minimum, it would seem to me that there is little room for negotiation on this. The plan as it is, forms an instructive reminder that we live in a finite world and that our futile attempts to ignore limits can only lead to the destruction of the natural systems that support us. This has happened to many past civilisations that grew larger than their natural resources could sustain. Let’s not follow in their footsteps.
Castle Hill NSW
Whenever an environmental issue becomes contentious, there are calls for a ‘balanced’ outcome. The problem is that this balance is invariably between environmental and economic /societal aspects. Furthermore, during the intense national debate about the future of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), this quest for balance has degenerated into emotion, vilification and irrationality, none of which underpins sound, sustainable policy.
The problem is that we have two sets of laws in play, ours and the laws of nature, and nature doesn’t negotiate. The litany of water crises around the world is testimony to this. We are part of nature, and our continued healthy existence will depend on our respect for this relationship.
It is glibly repeated that Australia feeds approximately 60 million people and food security is not an issue here, but it has been at enormous environmental cost. It is yet to be demonstrated that we can feed 22 million on an environmentally sustainable basis. We are already net importers of fruit and vegetables and our very limited good quality, well watered arable land is increasingly going under housing, roads and infrastructure on the periphery of all our major cities. It is well known that climate change will further restrict food production, as will oil depletion.
We will need to pay more for food, source more food locally, and value and protect our farmers. What is certain is that there is no place for Business as Usual.
If the ‘balanced’ outcome of the MDB deliberations is an unsustainable extraction of water, there will simply be no long term agricultural future for this our nation’s food bowl. Why is this so hard to understand?
As an irrigation researcher, I feel it is important that the Basin Plan be adopted with as little alteration as possible.
It is clear to me, and to many of the irrigators I have worked with in the Riverina over the last 5 years, that extraction levels are too high to be sustainable however large numbers of irrigating entities (inpiduals and corporations) will never able to band together to reduce water use overall to ensure sustainability. Legislation must be used to overcome the Tragedy of the Commons and reduce water consumption for both irrigators and irrigation product consumers’ long term interest.
I understand that the Basin Plan is threatening and quite terrifying for many irrigators and their communities but I believe that the alternative to reducing water use in the way it proposes – medium term sector decline and longer term potential total decline due environmental collapse – is even less palatable but far less immediately understood.
I urge the MDBA not to be swayed by inpiduals’ stories of hardship and implement the Plan as originally proposed. I believe it was written fairly and will provide for an ongoing irrigation sector in the MDB. It is the first large-scale plan in Australia that fundamentally acknowledges that production must occur within natural resource replacement limits and it is therefore critical that it be implemented both for the immediate effects of the plan and also for the wider legacy of attitudinal change to resource use in Australia that it may bring.