THE TIPPING POINT
Today we face economic downturn because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia should take action to protect our sovereignty.
The Snowy Hydro Scheme is one of our greatest national accomplishments. It setup irrigation schemes and inland production to drought proof our country and secure food production.
Irrigation areas produce 60 per cent of the nation's food, when water is made available.
The Murray Darling Basin Plan has left, food producers in these purpose built irrigation areas struggling with short supply of water due to water mismanagement, water speculators price gouging markets and infrastructure operators either restricting supply or trading water contrary to their customer's best interests.
Looking at the water ownership of the NSW State Government it has a total of 743.259 megalitres.
This does not include any rules based water which is also netted against farmers yearly allocation and removed from their productive water pool and is transferred to either the state government or the infrastructure operator (IO).
This water can then used by either the government or the IOs to trade and to make a profit despite all entities being cost recovery organisations.
This behaviour has left family farms vulnerable, particularly in the last two years with little or no production to service business debt. Given the uncertainty around the COVID-19 crisis, panic buying has emptied supermarket shelves of basic staple foods including rice, flour, pasta, dairy and meat.
Australia is left exposed because it imports most of its rice, half of its dairy products and nearly a third of the wheat on the east coast to make flour, bread and pasta. The cost of red meat product has also doubled due to increased grain costs.
Last week the Sunrice group has released a statement that it is unable to access its rice from its Vietnam operations due to the introduction of the Vietnam Government's ban on exports because of the virus outbreak.
This has left Australia with an insufficient supply. It's a "no brainer", it's time for Australia to "look after its own" and "grow our own".
Why is it difficult for both federal and state governments to change water policy, when we have seen overnight changes in legislation in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic?
We need to stand up and understand that Australia has a significant opportunity to secure food production and to prevent the "poverty path" experienced in the 1930s of the Great Depression.
Tanya Ginns, Murrami
CONCERN ABOUT DETAILS
I have grave concerns that Mick Keelty, who is conducting a review of water resource management in the Murray Darling Basin has a few facts wrong.
During questioning from Senator Malcolm Roberts at senate estimates in early March, Mr Keelty said that people are living with the consequences of their strategic business decisions about water markets.
I would in particular like to highlight his comments that "general security licence holders who at one point in time were offered, under the New South Wales regime, the opportunity to convert to high security but chose not to because at the time there was almost a guaranteed 50 or 47 per cent of availability for entitlement".
This is totally inaccurate, firstly there was only a very small window of about three months for people to take up the offer, there was a program limit to 50,000 megalitres which could be converted and it only applied if the water was to be used for horticulture.
Secondly, it was offered before the Millennium drought kicked in, when allocations for general security below 80 per cent were unheard of.
The offer left out the majority of people in the Murray Valley who are responsible for the production of annual staple food crops and products.
Food producers in the Murray Valley have had no wins, if they kept their permanent entitlements they are facing the third year in a row with no water and if they sold them to rely on the temporary market they can't afford the water.
Mr Keelty, the southern connected system has had a kick in the guts and the Murray Valley has been the fall guy. It is time for you to expose this mess.
Lachlan Marshall, Blighty
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