Features Australia

Water, water everywhere

23 November 2019

9:00 AM

23 November 2019

9:00 AM

These words from Coleridge’s great poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, could have been the theme of the 2018 Neville Bonner Oration by Alan Jones.

If anyone is the nation’s seer on water, it is Alan Jones. Unlike most politicians, Pauline Hanson excepted, he has long warned of the advent of the calamitous situation Australia is in today.

As for Pauline, she is the only politician to ask just how the Murray-Darling Basin Plan can do what the Constitution specifically forbids, restrict farmers’ rights to the ‘reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation’.

Indeed, at the most important session of the 1898 Federation Convention, one quarter of the Founders’ time was spent on knotting out this very issue into what is Section 100.

That section was turned into a dead-letter by the usual suspects. It was done  without the consent of the people and probably, without even their knowledge.

In any event Alan Jones has long declared that ‘We ought not to imagine we are short of water, because we’re not’.Rather, he says, the nation is short of ‘the  courage’ to get water from where it is to where it is needed. ‘Put simply our water crisis is man-made through poor management, self-interested politics, ignorance and indifference.’

(As man-made as the bushfires are.)

Getting our water to where it is needed is less an engineering challenge than at any time in the past. Nor, with  low interest rates and the government’s proposed 15 per cent concessional tax rate, is it a financial problem.

As we’ve said, the three B Plans —Bradfield, Beale and Bridges — long ago prescribed the solution. But by quietly closing a Fraser government feasibility study into water-harvesting and by using dubious powers to block a major Tasmanian dam, the Hawke government and subsequent politicians have deprived Australia of half a century of progress.

Without the people closely checking on them, the danger is that the politicians will go on selecting fake infrastructure projects which only result in billions  down the drain.

A recent example is the $1 billion   given to rich, foreign, well-subsidised ‘renewable’ energy corporations. Then there are those white elephants, the NBN, Sydney’s second airport, ‘saving’ the Great Barrier Reef and Snowy 2.0.

The real problem which demands urgent attention is the possible end of agriculture by our farmers as we know it to be replaced by corporate agribusinesses too often under the control and direction of the Beijing communists. This is not paranoia; we already see this with Tasmania’s dairy industry.

The movement of our exceptionally high-quality clean food is thus from our paddocks to their plates, without our profiting from it or (probably) even gaining minuscule and nominal taxes.

Perhaps this explains the curious  failure of government to accept as refugees those terrorised South African farmers. Is this because the South Africans would strengthen the class of ‘mum and dad’ farmers and thus prevent a Tasmanian-style takeover by the Beijing communists?

What is needed now is a declaration  of emergency, under the defence and nationhood powers.

Instead of the pale imitation chosen, the government should honestly and fully adopt the Alan Jones plan for HECS-style loans for farmers where, instead of  interest, the capital begins to be repaid at real value when the farmer’s annual taxable income exceeds a prescribed amount, likely to be close to $50,000.

Three additional measures are necessary. First, to correct another bungle, immediately expropriate all water not associated with land in order to take speculators off the backs of our farmers. The precedent for this is when Canberra stole land worth millions from farmers to turn it into useless carbon sinks. The politicians, including the Nationals, stole the farmers’ land just so they could strut around saying they had complied with some pointless UN CO2 limits.

How they did this was the sort of devious wickedness which should earn  them a special place in hell. They paid off state governments to do this for them. The reason? They could thus circumvent a federal constitutional requirement to pay full compensation to our struggling farmers. In any event what politicians, including Nationals, thought was good enough for our farmers is surely good enough for speculators.

In addition, Canberra should declare its acceptance of the constitutional requirement not to restrict farmers’ reasonable access to the water of the rivers, tearing up the disastrous Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the fiction of ‘environment water’.

Finally the Coalition should reverse its disgraceful refusal to support Pauline Hanson’s bill setting a floor price for milk.

It is not as if these problems have just emerged. But instead of attending to real problems, politicians are too easily distracted by elite non-issues.

Having forced the nation into considering and rejecting their fake republic, many of them are still pushing this dead issue. Then relying on the gratuitous advice of judges and the self-selected leaders of the non-existent LBQXYZ community, a vast amount of time was spent on same-sex marriage. And having recognised the myths of the frontier wars and the stolen generation, inventing native title, spending about $30 billion a year on ‘closing the gap’, the politicians seem determined to create a platoon or two of indigenous politicians as a first stage to the latest version of constitutional recognition. The politicians seem to make a mess of everything they touch while avoiding the very issues for which our political institutions, especially the federal ones, were created.

Water and saving our farmers must be at the top of today’s agenda. Then politicians must restore what they have taken; affordable, reliable and accessible energy, educational standards higher than Kazakhstan’s, a defence acquisitions budget not plundered for political advantage, and the morale of the defence forces.

They should stop letting in immigrants such as the gaoled terrorist in the news who was a disability pensioner with two wives. The politicians should be beware, the patience of Australians is not unlimited.

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