The big winter wet of this year (2016) is a timely reminder of the flaws in the MDB Plan. I have long been fascinated by inland water flows in this very flat land, with highly variable rainfall, which is the predominant feature of Australia. Dorothea Mackellar got it so right with her classic line “Droughts and Flooding Rains”. She might well have added “And not much in the middle”.
My interest in the subject became even greater when I found myself Chairman and CEO of an agricultural company whose interests included an irrigation business growing cotton on the Darling River upstream and downstream of Bourke.
My first impressions as I familiarised myself with this business were:-
- The human characteristic of always seeking to blame somebody for water shortages and the reluctance to attribute these shortages to natural factors.
- The meaningless of average statistics when the spreads around the average are enormous.
- The failure of water authorities to appreciate the massive magnitude of the big events, and their frequency, albeit irregularity.
- The persistence of these authorities to maintain an attitude of “we must determine how much water for this or that” when “we” have very little control. Man fiddles at the edges. Nature dominates.