water this morning - and say something about the Murray Darling Basin Authority plans. Now, the idea is that these will save the rivers and restore them to health. We are being told that they will and that they are a 'good thing', perhaps the 'only thing'. Being a born cynic I doubt this.
I do think that the socio-economic impact will be far, far greater than the MDBA believes. The idea that 'only 8000' jobs will be lost is nonsense and I think that the MDBA knows that. The state and federal governments must know it too.
If it was a matter of 8000 jobs then it is possible that these could be reabsorbed elsewhere. The reality is that it will be many more jobs than that and that not everyone affected will be able to find employment even if they are prepared to move.
That is just part of the problem. The biggest issue of all is perhaps one of national security. We grow food along the length of the rivers. If we stop doing that we need to import it. If we import food, particularly from places like China, Indonesia and other points north and north east of us, we become dependent on them. They can start telling us what to do, who to support on the world stage and how to support them. They will say, "We feed you. Do as we want or you starve." We will pay the price they choose to demand or provide the commodities they wish to have.
It is a problem for any country which imports large quantities of food but it will be a particular problem for Australia because of our geographical location and the likely sources of our food. We do not have the buying power of a large population like the United States or the backing of an organisation like the European Union.
We have a relatively small population. We should be able to feed ourselves without importing anything. We will import things for the purposes of exchange of trade - and because Australians have grown to believe they should be able to eat anything they choose all year round whether those things are in season or out of season. Importing some food is not the problem, importing a lot more food could be. It is no good saying, "But China is a big trading partner." That could always change. It is better to have the potential to be as independent as possible.
We may not eat quite as well but we would eat well enough, better than they do in many places.
At the same time as they are planning to cut back water use for irrigators our state government is doing two things that seem foolish in the extreme. First, they are lifting many of the water restrictions that have applied and that people were learning to live with. It is not possible to calculate how much water these restrictions really saved but they did make some people more water conscious and that can only be a good thing.
Second, they are planning to open up more prime agricultural land for the purposes or urban housing. They are still going to offer people the opportunity to build their own castles on individual blocks. Australians are used to this. Home ownership for many means their own four bedroom home on a quarter acre block. It is not that they need four bedrooms or that they want to look after a quarter acre block. It is what they have been told is desirable. It is not true of everyone of course - and many people know it is not going to be a reality. The government however is still encouraging that by developing housing estates in that way - and then taxing us heavily in an ever more desperate effort to provide the necessary infrastructure and services.
It is, after all "what people want".
Now I may be quite wrong about all this. Perhaps it is what people not only want but have a right to want. On the other hand I am wondering whether our need for national security might not be greater. If we are dependent on external sources for food and those external sources are controlling us in perhaps subtle ways then I am not sure the four bedroom house on the quarter acre block will do any of us much good.
I think that one of the first steps with respect to the MDBA should be to reduce water usage in urban areas and return it to the food bowl. That will mean smaller houses on smaller parcels of land. Am I wrong?