The purchase (for $23.75m)and closing down of Toorale Station at Bourke, can now be viewed with the value of two years hindsight and can be clearly seen as the great act of bastardry that many saw it as at the time.
It was an action totally driven by cheap politics for consumption in Adelaide, that will have negligible beneficial impacts for the Murray River and very damaging socio-economic impacts on the local Bourke community.
The purchase of irrigation licenses when there are no allocations (or in Toorale’s case river heights below pumping or diversion levels) has no benefit when water is scarce and will only limit production when water is plentiful-like it is now.
Since Christmas and prior to the arrival of the latest flood waters from Queensland the equivalent of three Sydney Harbours has flowed down the Darling past Bourke. Had the Toorale water licenses been operable Toorale would have extracted a mere 10,000 megalitres-0.7% of the flow.
The conversion of Toorale to a National Park takes out of play Bourke’s most productive property and denies the Bourke Shire Council 10% of its shire rates. And this in a world screaming for increased food production.
Will we ever learn?