in parts of Australia right now - and we are not allowed to use it.
Now I know that this will sound absolutely crazy to those of you who live in Upover rather than Downunder but we have a little problem with water. Well, we have a big problem with water.
We have the River Murray and the other rivers which flow into it. These rivers keep Australia alive. We need to take care of them. We have also had years of argument about who uses the water and why they use it and how they use it.
Normally we do not have enough water for everyone to use as much as they want to use. Water has also been used in ways which are, to put it mildly, inefficient. Australians grow rice and cotton. They irrigate by water wasteful methods. Urban areas do not do nearly enough to conserve water and recycle it. Not everyone has a rainwater tank and even some of those who do have tanks do not use the water.
But, the truly ridiculous thing at present is that South Australian irrigators along the River Murray are not permitted to use 100% of their water allocation despite the fact that the water levels are expected to reach the same levels as the floods of 1956. These irrigators are growing our food. They will be expected to supply food to replace crops that have been ruined by floods in New South Wales and Queensland. They are expected to do this on a 67% water entitlement, which is up from previous years but still not enough.
Our state government has just shrugged and said that the inter-state agreement does not allow them to change the amount the irrigators can use. Why they are apparently not even trying to negotiate is beyond me. Why the Commonwealth government has not stepped in and demanded action is beyond me. The irrigators may well revolt and just use the water. This is two days water running out to sea that we are talking about, two days out of several months of water. We may be faced with years of drought again but water used now will help to preserve water use in the future.
My own view is that this is a national emergency and matters should be sorted out rapidly. The government tells me I am wrong but they cannot explain why.