Thursday, April 19, 2007

Murray Darling water and climate change are linked

Prime Minister Howard’s warning today that no water would be available for irrigation in the Murray Darling Basis unless the drought breaks in the next eight weeks is an admission of serious Government policy and process failure.

Howard and Turnbull’s recently announced 10 billion water reform package will not address primary causes of the drought such as climate change.

Howard has repeatedly claimed that Australia cannot reduce carbon emissions or coal exports because it will affect our level of income and standard of living. He is terribly wrong – the reverse is the case.

Ignoring climate change and refusing to address it has now exposed Australia to the very real risk that our food production will be greatly compromised due to lack of water. The Murray Darling Basin provides about 40 percent of Australia’s food production, and relies very heavily on irrigation. If the drought continues, many farmers and rural towns will go broke, and food prices will rise for everyone, which will have a major impact on both incomes and lifestyles.

We cannot afford to have short-term partisan political imperatives compromising our environment and our collective future. Warnings by scientists of an impending crisis have been ignored for over three decades.

We need a vision, long term planning and new approaches for sustainable living. A dedicated taskforce of scientists and community representatives is required to address the technical and social factors outside of the political arena.

Irrigation levels at 'dangerous' lows, warns PM

This was published as the lead letter in The Weekend Australian on April 21-22, titled "An empty Murray is a result of policy and process failure"

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