Jun 3, 2011

Murray-Darling: keep the pollies away

The latest Murray-Darling report shows why politicians can't be trusted with serious policy-making.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The House of Reps Regional Australia committee’s report on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a showcase example of why politicians shouldn’t be let near serious policy making.

Hastily put together by a panicked — well, more panicked than usual — Government after it hopelessly mismanaged the response to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority guide, the Committee brought together a number of regional MPs, led by Tony Windsor, to channel community anger away from Labor.

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68 thoughts on “Murray-Darling: keep the pollies away

  1. Competitive Australia

    We can tinker around with MDB and water in general, but until we get serious about de-sal and nuclear power to pump it inland, we are waffling.

  2. Holden Back

    How discreet of you not to mention which politicians on the committee will happily hand out money from any colour of government with a smile and a photo opp.

    And kind of you not to suggest they were playing to their constituents by presenting outrageous behaviour and deliberate misrepresentation by a small group of farmers as acceptable because the MDBA failed in a near impossible to win them over with PR.

    Presenting anything not in your personal interests as the greatest outrage against all that is decenct – what a great trick!

  3. Billy Blogs

    I like to see a recommendation to have 1/3rd of Melbourne’s water pumped up the North/South pipeline for environmental flow purposes. Same from Sydney – just pump it over the divide.
    After all, if it is truly that critical then everyone should shoulder the pain.

  4. Greg Angelo

    I understand that the scientists involved in advising the MDBA have all resigned in protest at the handling of this situation

    Politicians of all persuasions in this debate are guilty of abrogating their responsibilities for the long-term management of Australia’s premier Inlandwaterway on the altar of political expediency, vote buying, malicious propaganda and sheer self-interested bloody mindedness.

    Anecdotal advice to never get between a politician and a pork barrel in the presence of a constituent is very appropriate.

  5. TormentedbytheDs

    Billy Blogs, Melbourne uses 340 odd Gigalitres a year so 1/3 is about 113 Gigalitres. I would assume similar figures for Sydney. Even with the magical Tony Windsor model it needs 2000 Gigalitres.

    Good try, but it isn’t enough.

  6. Acidic Muse

    Yeah, good idea Bernard. More media outrage is exactly what we need isn’t it.

    The primary reason this issue got so bent out of shape in the first place was the media response to a staged book burning. “Outrage” became the narrative because the media made it so. Because large sections of the Australian media obsessively masturbate over controversy as if were celebrity dwarf porn.

    Whether it’s putting a price on carbon, the mining tax debate or this one, most of the Australian media will always be inextricably drawn to placing whatever stage-managed outrage contrived by vested interests makes the best emotive content for the six o’clock News.

    But of course, like most journalists, you speak with a line that it’s all the politicians fault that we can’t have a serious substantive, thoughtful and mutually respectful public discourse around issues of such great importance to our nation’s future.

    How on earth can you criticise politicians for being reactive when large sections of the Australian media are constantly beating them around the head with whatever often completely contrived outrage that gets handed to them in a press kit by a vested interest group?

    For cooler heads to prevail in these debates, we actually need journalists to start focusing less on calling the horse race, less on the bumper sticker slogans, less on the hysterical theatrics and the politics of personal attrition … and more on the substance of the issues at hand viewed through the prism of our national interest, not how they impact the latest poll results.

  7. Carolyn Hicks

    Irrigation investment is not necessarily the magic solution it’s cracked up to be either. As Lin Crase has pointed out, when water is ‘lost’ from an irrigation channel, it doesn’t go to Mars. In many cases it eventually returns to a waterway. Before massively investing in upgrading infrastructure, you’d want to be very sure that the water you are supposedly losing isn’t already being accounted for somewhere else.

  8. Robert Barwick

    Bernard Keane outs himself–as a fascist! For “idiots” (burning the guide), read food producers, community members, citizens, and, above all, voters. Democracy gets in the way of your agenda, hey Bernard?

  9. AR

    inCOMPoz – what a great idea, nukes to pump desalinated water of the GDR. Other phantasists such as Bradfield, Idress, Alan Jones only suggested using coastal river water, the wimps.
    It’d be cheaper to use B double semis to cart Perrier & Evian.

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