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Where do we go when the river runs dry?

You got the power, I got the money / Another million miles to run / I’d cry, cry for the future / But I wouldn’t get anything done / Relax, abandon ship / Turn your back on Mother Nature / You got nothing but your soul to sell / You got nothing / When the river runs dry / You will return to the scene of the crime / When the river runs dry

DID MARK SEYMOUR have a crystal ball when he penned the Hunters and Collectors’ hit song, When the River Runs Dry, 30 years ago? It seems so.

comment-icon-nov2018Make no mistake: the crisis in the Murray-Darling is political. It is an environmental and agricultural disaster, it is a social and economic tragedy; but the crisis is political. This is the result of years of mismanagement on a brutal scale.

In late 2017, the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists published a 10-year review of the $13 billion plan to fix the Murray-Darling system and concluded that the plan was on the brink of collapse. The review cited institutional corruption, inadequate metering of water and lack of oversight of the plan, and singled out the New South Wales and Queensland governments as particularly weak in their regulation.

The Darling River is now completely non-existent in many places, and a series of stagnant pools in others. Two weeks ago [original article posted 28 January 2019] Australians were shocked at the news and vision of up to a million dead fish in the lower Darling: a massive fish kill event at what scientists believe is ‘extinction levels’.

The Nationals have stewardship of water management at both state and federal levels. This is the party that will claim in the coming election campaigns that they have the interests of farmers and rural communities at heart. Yet it is they who have made the deals allowing the big irrigators and their lobbyists to steal water from farmers, leaving some communities with no drinking water, much less water to maintain farming livelihoods. The New South Wales food bowl is becoming a dust bowl.

Last week a group of mayors from affected communities in the Barwon-Darling region travelled to Sydney to attend a crisis meeting. The Minister for Water, Niall Blair, did not attend.

Meanwhile, where is the leader of the New South Wales Nationals? On Sunday he was handing out helium balloons to children at the Bungendore show and asking to be re-elected. Crisis? What crisis?

— Robin Tennant-Wood  (Braidwood Times editorial with permission)

IMAGE SOURCE: Debbie Newitt, Facebook / ABC News

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