Letters to the editor

BURNING ISSUE: Furious irrigators burn copies of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in Griffith in 2010. The issue remains deeply divisive.Stop the basin plan liesIT IS complete nonsense that current water allocations have anything to do with the basin plan and it is unfortunate that a small section of the irrigation community are trying to hoodwink people into believing it (“Stop the rot, stop the plan: irrigators”,Daily Advertiser, September 8).
Nanjing Night Net

Every year the amount of water available to entitlement holders is divided up using formulas written down in state water sharing plans.

As Shelley Scoullar knows full well, the number of entitlements hasn’t changed and the formulas haven’t changed.

The only change is that a small portion of those entitlements are now owned by the environment.

It is impossible that the volume of allocation a farmer receives this year would have been any different without the basin plan.

The two are simply not connected.

To look at it another way, as at July 31, storages in the Murray and Murrumbidgee were nearly half full, holding a total of 5,529GL.

Of that, only 326GL or 5.9 per centwas environmental water under the basin plan.

And every drop of it is subject to the exact same allocation announcements that Ms Scoullar is complaining about.

We should also keep in mind that in response to noisy campaigns like this, the federal government is pulling out of water buybacks and instead putting $2.5 million a day into the bank accounts of irrigators in the Murray-Darling basin through generous subsidy programs like the On-Farm Efficiency Program.

Public money is paid to these private businesses to upgrade their irrigation equipment so they can produce food andfibre with less water.

And not only do irrigators get potentially millions of dollars’ worth of new technology, as a bonus they get to keep half the water that is saved.

In exchange for this generous subsidy, the government returns the other half of the water to the river, so we can all benefit from improved water quality, abundant native fish populations and healthy red gum parks and forests.

The results of a few years of looking after the river are starting to bear fruit.In 2013-14, environmental water that had been bought back from farmers was released in the Goulburn River, triggering a successful breeding of golden perch and silver perch, two threatened species.

This wouldn’t have been possible without returning to the river some of the water that had previously been taken for irrigation. Governments must keep to the task of implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to safeguard the river system – which is the lifeblood of the nation, sustaining and supporting millions of Australians – before the next big drought hits.

Jonathan La NauzeAustralian Conservation FoundationPlan an abject failureIT’S great to see the health initiatives from our federal health minister, Sussan Ley, including the DIY health checks that she announced this week.

Unfortunately there’s a health check that Ms Ley seems to have forgotten, which happens to be in her own electorate.

Remember us, Sussan?

We’re the ones who elected you.

Our region’s health is rapidly deteriorating because you have failed to support the food producers on which the regional economy relies.

We, too, need a serious health check.

All we are asking for is a fair go and a reasonable share of water so we can grow crops. Do you remember that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was supposed to provide a triple bottom lineresult, delivering equally to the environment, economy and people?

In this respect it has been an abject failure and we would welcome some attention to try and right this wrong.

Karen MacdonaldDeniliquinThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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