Comments yesterday by the Federal Minister for water, Tony Burke, following criticism of the proposed Basin Plan by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, provide long overdue acknowledgement that a significant proportion of Australians do not approve of current water reform.
The public is gradually coming to the realisation that, when given the responsibility of drafting the Basin Plan, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority was handed a chalice containing the most noxious of poisons – privatised water.
The latest version of the proposed Basin Plan has been widely criticised for advocating the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars to upgrade irrigation infrastructure. This is a process widely agreed to be a highly inefficient means of increasing environmental flows, supposedly the aim of the Basin Plan, but one of considerable financial benefit to the private sector, specifically irrigating agribusiness, which even in good years contributes only around 15 per cent to the national value of agricultural output — much of its product being inedible, water-addicted cotton.
Fair Water Use has contacted Minister Burke, stating its concerns that the Basin Plan is no longer the road map for improving the ecological health of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and is in fact “just another brick in the wall” in the process of privatisation-by-stealth of Australia’s water.
Fair Water Use urges Australians to demand the right to voice their opinion on water privatisation, by state-by-state plebiscite if necessary.
Dr Ian Douglas
08 8398 0812