Border Mail letters: Border Mail readers have their say on the issues of the day

Rethink: Australians need to give serious thought to the far more efficient use of water, which is growing in scarcity, a reader says.
Rethink: Australians need to give serious thought to the far more efficient use of water, which is growing in scarcity, a reader says.

Water reality ignored

No more rain falls in Australian in 2017 than fell in the 1780s when white settlement began. At that time about 300,000 Aborigines lived across our continent. Now 25 million people compete for the same amount of water and politicians talk of millions more and huge new cities to house them and boost the economy.

Why, if there won't be enough water to sustain life?

UNESCO and the National Land and Water Audit of 2003 showed Australia was using all the water available and much more than was sustainable. According to UNESCO and the Water Audit more than 75 per cent of our total water was used in irrigation. Yet recently the CSIRO has been reported as taking soil samples throughout the Top End with the objective of producing more food with irrigation!

Only about four per cent of Australia's total land mass is naturally fertile and we've built our cities on that land. The rest is desert with a few remote springs and fewer water courses that run all year round.

Hydrologists and geologists tell me our artesian basins are seriously depleted and some are empty. It took nature millions of years to balance our flora and fauna to co-exist. It has taken only 200-plus years of white settlement to destroy that balance by changing land uses. Indeed we now have man-made deserts and wastelands created by salinity.

I remember in the 1960s lectures by Melbourne University's agricultural economist Professor Bruce Davidson on the myth of the food bowl and the unsustainability of Australia's farming by irrigation. He stressed the urgency and benefits of returning to dry-land farming.

Local governments must harness and recycle water, build cities up instead of out onto existing farmlands, and not allow water to be privatised. UNESCO says we live over one fifth of our lives in drought and all of our lives in a gamble with the supply and quality of water. Our survival in Australia is dependent on the one commodity we cannot manufacture – water. Think about it.

Jean Whitla, Wodonga

New train or lost vote

I catch the Albury train line each Friday to come home from university for the weekend and play sport in the North East, and each Sunday night or Monday morning I make the same journey in return.

As a frequent user of V/Line I would wish to express my disgust in the Victorian government for their lack of effort to upgrade this service. Trains are always late, overcrowded and often without working air conditioning or heating.

The Friday 12.05 service to Albury is booked out basically every week. As is the Sunday lunchtime return from Albury. On Sunday March 12, I caught the 6.14pm from Wangaratta. The station was closed upon arrival with no ability given to pick up tickets, or buy them for those who had not done so. You couldn't buy tickets online because it was within 2 hours of the train departing. The bus arrived 15 minutes late and we were told it was going solely to Southern Cross, abandoning the other passengers on the platform with the bus driver casually telling them that he was not V/Line affiliated and therefore didn't know if another bus was even coming to get them. This has become beyond a joke.

The North East is a heavily populated and frequented area. Give us new trains, give us more regular services, give us an on-time service or I will give my vote to someone who can.

Emma Buckingham, Myrtleford

Different view welcome

Well said once again David Thurley. You are one of few voices standing against the right wing imported rants of On the Wallaby.

The Border Mail rural section would do well to have a weekly comment from you rather than the faceless David Everist, wherever he hails from. Keep up the good work.

Dave Harrison, Corowa