Two trillion litres of water in the Murray Darling Basin has just disappeared according to our national broadcaster. Oh thank goodness they made it clearer by saying the mystery water would have filled Sydney Harbour four and a half times. However, was the tide in or out?
Most people know how much a litre is or at a stretch they know it takes around 60 litres to fuel up the family jalopy. Disappeared it has, poof, however, the finger has subtly been pointed at farmers as, after all, who else would want to pinch water.
Then lo and behold it is research from the Wentworth Group of scientists that either fairly or unfairly are accused of always being on the anti-irrigation side of the argument. Just maybe their math and modelling are out and the water falling out of the sky has been miscalculated. Or maybe more water is accessing aquifers than previously thought.
After this rubbish came the good news that water minister Pitt has given the "heave-ho" to recovering further environmental water from farmers. Quite frankly, who gives a tinkers where he managed to find water to meet some spurious target. Irrigators have been relentless in the quest to maintain productive water in the system. Apart from farm productivity, the major beneficiaries will be the rural towns who have been belted by the effects of previous buybacks.
In Tasmania, the ongoing program to expand irrigation has resulted in a world-class irrigation scheme that is about to be constructed through the region. In the Midlands, one scheme will deliver 11,500 megalitres of high-surety irrigation water to 30 irrigators across 56,500 hectares. Farmers, mostly woolgrowers, some of who are planning to use the water on high-value crops.
The public outcry that ensues when an Australian farming property sells to overseas interests is deafening. Those who are the loudest are those who undoubtedly do not have a dollar invested in agriculture or skin in the game.
In the past, we had major insurance companies such as AMP and Colonial Mutual who invested heavily in rural production. Since the advent of compulsory superannuation, a mountain of cash needs investing, however, funds steer away from farming.
It is said super funds have available around $2.5 trillion in funds, however, less than one per cent is invested in Australian dirt and farm infrastructure.
This is in direct contrast to overseas funds that look to Australia as a long-term investment. One, the Canada Public Sector Pension Board, has in the past 12 months reported to have invested more than $2 billion in Australian farms.
A shining light is Vic Super that has invested in Kilter, a company that has rehabilitated seriously degraded country in the Kerang/Lake Charm area. There is a heavy commitment to the environment by management that focuses on what is now Australia's largest field tomato production area. Thinking outside the square, the operation grows cotton as a break crop. Yes, cotton in Victoria.
So to be a good citizen, ask your super fund how much do they invest in Australian primary production. Rural investment funds are currently giving high returns, as the value of farmland in some Victorian regions has increased by 20 to 30 per cent in a year compared to a normal 10 per cent. Not a bad return when stacked up against current alternative returns. And as they say, "God is not making any more land."