Murray Darling Basin Plan-Malcolm Turnbull


I follow Malcolm Turnbull on Twitter. Why? Because I have found him intelligent and interesting. When he was John Howard’s Parliamentary Secretary for Water we had him out to Bourke to discuss irrigation issues and I was very impressed how quickly he got his mind around them. I was surprised by his commitment to the ETS and to global warming in general, but was inclined to write it off as the ex-merchant bankers enthusiasm for another trading instrument.
So when his Tweet alerted me to his written declaration on the MDB Plan I quickly looked it up. My reaction is best summarised in my two comments on his website:
David Boyd says:
December 12, 2010 at 9:33 pm
You can do better than serve up some of this conventional wisdom! Have a look at the ABS statistics of actual diversions compared with the meaningless averages referred to in the Plan. The water sharing plans appear to be working rather well. Get your mind around the sheer quantum of the current flows. The last decade of drought and now these massive floods, highlight the natural variability of the Basin. We need more conservation (read dams), which in current circumstances would amount to holding back a miniscule percentage of the flow. We need to be careful not to confuse the natural results of dryness with bad river health. Where is this “ill health” today?? Nature is all powerful!
David Boyd says:
December 13, 2010 at 4:48 am
Malcolm said ” at the core of so many of our problems is trying to europeanise our australian landscape and hydrology.”
Wow! That is classic dark green dogma. He has come out of the closet and revealed himself as an ideological dark greenie! What an insulting comment to all of those world class Australian agricultural scientists who have led the world in sustainable, arid land agriculture. It is a fact that the Murray Darling Basin has never been more sustainably productive. Yes, it has always been subject to huge variability, and there is no better example than the last ten years of record low rain (and run-off) and now massive floods. We must stop claiming that the natural results of dryness amount to river “ill health” and blaming that on extractions, when low availability has meant very low allocations/extractions (if any). Our forebears did a much better job than they are being given credit for. A significant exception is the acid sulphate soils of the Lower Lakes. Not allowing salt water in, as happened naturally in dry times, has been a gross error and the evaporation losses of fresh water are indefensible. Certainly we can manage the system better, but let ’s concentrate on making the cake bigger and stop all of this self flagellation and accept the dominance of Nature. Examine the numbers!

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