News

This is ‘lunacy’

By Southern Riverina News

How can a civilised nation allow water to flood over river banks, while paddocks which normally grow vital food supplies for domestic and world markets are left barren at the same time unnatural floodwaters are killing vital food resources for forest wildlife?

That is the question being asked by Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman Chris Brooks, who continues to be frustrated by what he considers to be ‘‘political and bureaucratic lunacy’’.

‘‘This is a ludicrous situation that should never have been allowed to happen and must be called out for its utter stupidity,’’ he said.

Mr Brooks emphasised his concerns are broader than the devastation felt by his members — who cannot grow their usual quantities of food and fibre because they have a zero allocation, while at the same time as the Murray River is unnaturally flooding adjacent forests.

He said the flood damage is also killing wildlife and making a difficult season even worse, as feed for animals is ruined by floodwaters.

A video produced this month shows the Murray lapping at the banks in the Barmah Forest and flooding into adjacent lakes and beyond into part of the thousands of hectares in National Parks as the Murray River is pushed beyond capacity.

Mr Brooks said this is occurring because the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is trying to force huge quantities of water through the system.

‘‘Farmers in the NSW Murray are wearing the burden of the MDBA’s attempts to force undeliverable volumes to Lake Victoria, which is 80 per cent full, to store water for South Australia,’’ Mr Brooks said.

‘‘And while drought cripples the eastern states, three barrages in the Lower Lakes remain open to the sea, with these lakes at 97 per cent capacity.’’

Further frustrating food and fibre producers is the refusal of South Australia to use its desalination plant, built with the help of millions in Federal Government money, to help ease the drought problems.

Mr Brooks added he cannot understand why there is not greater outrage about the senseless destruction occurring in our flooded forests.

‘‘Imagine the benefits to the entire nation if the (desalination) plant was turned on and produced its capacity of 10,000 megalitres a year, and in addition instead of losing 2000 megalitres a day because it won’t fit down the river, this water went to our farmers to produce food and create economic activity and national wealth,’’ Mr Brooks said.

‘‘That would be common sense decision making.

‘‘Many people, including Save The Brumbies representatives, are furious at the flood damage. It is killing red gums and decimating Moira grasslands, which are a key part of the food chain for kangaroos, brumbies and other animals.

‘‘This is about more than irrigation and growing food. We simply have to get better with our water management to protect communities, forests, animals ... everything that relies on this precious resource.

‘‘We’re wasting huge quantities because of poor management when there are sensible options available.

‘‘I was gobsmacked when Phillip Glyde, the MDBA’s chief executive officer, actually lectured us about making tough decisions on the land. Where are the tough decisions to protect the environment, our animals and our communities? The reality is, they’re non-existent.

‘‘Everyone can see that outdated water delivery arrangements with South Australia have crippled the NSW Murray. These, in conjunction with the Basin Plan, will shut down the very system designed to drought proof this nation if some tough decisions are not made very soon by our politicians in Canberra.

‘‘Our national leaders must take action. We’re killing animals and killing communities, all because of a flawed plan being implemented by an organisation that refuses to operate with the flexibility in water management that we were promised.

‘‘We are also stopping the production of clean, green food that every Australian family relies on.’’.