September 1st 2007

  Buy Issue 2763

Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Stock market turmoil: consequences for Australia

2007 FEDERAL ELECTION: A green energy, green car policy

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY: US debt crisis threatens world financial system

CANBERRA OBSERVED: How Kevin Rudd confounds his critics

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Rudd and Howard woo the Christian vote

LABOR PARTY: Emily's List - who and what are they?

WATER: A three-year moratorium on irrigation water-trading

QUEENSLAND: Revolt grows over forced council amalgamations

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The rat race in our region / India's shame / India's political limitations / Brumby's curse

DEFENCE: Australia in biggest Indian Ocean exercise

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Amnesty International ditches its pro-life allies

UNITED STATES: US presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney



Books promotion page

A three-year moratorium on irrigation water-trading

by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, September 1, 2007
Murray-Darling Basin agriculture, which produces about 40 per cent of Australia's food and fibre, is in major crisis, writes Patrick J. Byrne.

With record low water available for agriculture, stressed farmers with record debts are ready to sell off their water and leave the land.

Under the National Water Initiative part of National Competition Policy, permanent water-title has been separated from land-title and the water allowed to be traded. In theory, this is to allow the free trade of water from low to high-value uses, thereby letting the market decide who gets the water.

Irrigation water is now being bought by towns and cities and by managed investment schemes. Also, governments plan to buy 500 gigalitres under the Living Murray plan, and 3,500 gigalitres under the recently-passed federal water legislation, for environmental flows and buyback of existing licences.

In addition, the Victorian Government has just released a draft policy to take an additional 3,000 gigalitres every five years to flood the Murray red-gum forests, as well as taking water from the Goulburn system in central Victoria for Melbourne.

This would cut the annual 12,000 gigalitres diverted for agriculture and cities on average by at least 4,600 gigalitres, or 38 per cent.

This will push the price of irrigation so high that it will destroy much of the irrigation agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Ironically, even Professor Peter Cullen - who is a backer of these water reforms - admitted to his television audience that, when allocating water between sectors, "There are political judgments that have to be made. The choice between irrigation, rural towns, Adelaide and the environment is a value judgment which I think politicians are going to be making." (Difference of Opinion, ABC TV, February 19, 2007).

In other words, open free markets in water cannot properly allocate water among agriculture, cities and the environment. Governments have to allocate to those markets. And they have to wake up to the disaster they are creating by planning to take over one-third of the irrigation water in the basin out of productive use.

Before water-trading becomes an unmitigated disaster in the Murray-Darling Basin, there needs to be a three year moratorium placed on the trade in farmers' permanent water rights. Then there needs to be a long, open consultation among government, farmers and local governments across all the catchment areas of the basin to sort out the water crisis.

- Patrick J. Byrne.

Join email list

Join e-newsletter list

Your cart has 0 items

Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers

Trending articles

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Memo to Shorten, Wong: LGBTIs don't want it

COVER STORY Shorten takes low road to defeat marriage plebiscite

COVER STORY Reaper mows down first child in the Low Countries

COVER STORY Bill Shorten imposes his political will on the nation

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Kevin Andrews: defend marriage on principles

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coalition still gridlocked despite foreign success

ENVIRONMENT More pseudo science from climate

News and views from around the world

Menzies, myth and modern Australia (Jonathan Pincus)

China’s utterly disgraceful human-rights record

Japan’s cure for childlessness: a robot (Marcus Roberts)

SOGI laws: a subversive response to a non-existent problem (James Gottry)

Shakespeare, Cervantes and the romance of the real (R.V. Young)

That’s not funny: PC and humour (Anthony Sacramone)

Refugees celebrate capture of terror suspect

The Spectre of soft totalitarianism (Daniel Mahoney)

American dream more dead than you thought (Eric Levitz)

Think the world is overcrowded: These 10 maps show why you’re wrong (Max Galka)

© Copyright 2011
Last Modified:
November 14, 2015, 11:18 am