Water part of recovery
Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, this is what confronts vast areas of drought and fire-ravaged regional Australia. Now more than ever we demand and expect decisions that transcend political and ideological divisions.
The full extent of the physical, emotional and economic costs will take months, if not years to become fully accountable. But there are some immediate actions that can be taken to assist those in need with regards to preservation of commercial livestock, the dairy industry and those farmers struggling to protect their future and their livestock.
The current drought has depleted grain production and fodder production to dangerously-low levels. The shortage of natural pastures means that agistment and depleted fodder reserves will place further pressure upon the ability to provide cost-effective and adequate relief to those livestock and dairy producers severely affected by the fires.
As this is occurring, thousands of acres of efficient irrigated agricultural land lie idle while we continue to release environmental water into the Southern Ocean. The politics of the preceding sentence are both contentious and controversial, but we are dealing with a state of disaster across every state.
This is not about the politics of the Basin Plan, this is in the national interest. I am sure that all state governments comprehend the magnitude of the problem.
The scaling back of current environmental watering programs to make water available for grain and fodder production is in the best interests of all Australians, but most importantly to those in need of assistance. There is still a current "window of opportunity" available to enable irrigators to plant some late summer forage crops, water existing pasture and hay crops and pre-irrigate in the autumn for winter cereal production. We can turn large areas of unproductive land and infrastructure into a valuable component of the restoration process.
I am cognisant of many of the issues associated with making this water available but this should be an impediment to the implementation of the proposal. There is one important matter that I would stipulate be non-negotiable to the provision of this water and that is, "use it or lose it". This water cannot be transferable, tradeable or able to be carried over for future use. It is only available for immediate productive use.
The Commonwealth government is the largest owner of water in Australia and it is incumbent upon them to use that water in the national interest. Food security ranks alongside the protection of human life and property.
Harold Clapham, Deniliquin
Well done to you Wal
I congratulate Wal Bounader (Vindication, 2 decades on, The Border Mail, January 21). His forward thinking helped save a lot of other homes, infrastructure and heartaches for the people in his area. It's a pity the powers to be still cannot see the need for fire prevention.
Ten years ago there were some 2000 acres of bare firebreaks around Melbourne's water supplies. They felt this to be necessary to guarantee Melbourne's water supply. This fire prevention work gives crews safe working areas to work from to help stop and contain bigger fires. Well done Wal.