Five years ago, after much serious argy-bargy, federal and state governments finally agreed on a comprehensive, $13 billion plan to manage the rivers of the Murray Darling Basin system. It took more than a century to reach a basic consensus on managing a complex water system that had been grossly abused.
Achieving this historically significant reform in the current political climate, I think, would be simply impossible. One must recognise that this was arguably one of John Howard's most positive and tangible achievements (the final plan was signed under Prime Minister Julia Gillard).
Before you yawn and stop reading any further, allow me to remind you, in case you don't know, that the Murray Darling Basin is not some ill defined, marginal little space out there populated by redneck irrigators. True, many state water ministers in the past used to like this portfolio because it meant getting out of the city and going on a country rampage of steak and beer, all the while ignoring how this delicate natural construct was being irreparably damaged by rogue, ignorant irrigation practices.
Read Stefano de Pieri’s comments in today’s Melbourne Age - "Harder stance on our waterways could cost us dearly.”