Editorial by Andrew Gregson

As I write, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan passes its last Parliamentary hurdle. Today is technically the last day that a disallowance motion could be put. The Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, has marked the occasion by having a Member on his own side of the Parliament ask a question about it. Known as a “Dorothy Dixer”, these questions are designed to give the Government the opportunity to profess how wonderful they are. It’s pure theatrics and generally utterly irrelevant to the running of the country. Compounding the theatricality is Minister
Burke’s decision to nominate one activist for his role in bringing about the Plan. He even invited that activist to be present in the House for the question.
Henry Jones is a fisherman on  the lower Lakes. Apparently it’s important that he carry on the inter-generational fishing business in that part of the world and that his catch feed people. Of course, to do so sees enormous ramifications for other inter-generational businesses (irrigation farms) and the reduction of capacity to feed many, many more people.
But Canberra is like that. What is patently absurd to anyone viewing from elsewhere can seem entirely reasonable in the national capital. It is a strange and fascinating world up there. So we thought we’d embrace that world and
descend upon it in July for our first ever conference. The move is being well received with the Shadow Minister confirming his attendance and the Minister likely to. Representatives of media organisations are making plans to cover it in detail, Commonwealth Departments are sending representatives (being some of the first to register) and overseas delegates planning to attend.
Why? Simply put, the conference has attracted a lineup of international guest speakers to consider a long-range future; to get out of the day to day and to view irrigation in Australia from other perspectives. We’d be delighted to have you join us, to have your say and to assist in having Canberra see through our eyes! The details are inside.

Read the full Productive Water Journal from Autumn 2013 [HERE]

Editorial by Andrew Gregson

I’ve heard the word “done” a lot in the last few days in reference to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, albeit in a range of contexts. I’ve heard “we’ve been done”, I’ve heard “the Greenies got done” but perhaps most troubling of all I’ve heard “it’s done”. The good news is that we’ve ended up with a Plan drastically better than it might have been, thanks in no small parts to the efforts of community and irrigation leaders who give their time to NSWIC. As the article inside attests, the Plan is a long way from perfect, but a long way from what it might have been. By no means, though, is it “done”. The implementation period lies ahead, and it is in that period that danger lies. During the last four years, we invested a whole lot of resource into ensuring the Plan was a discussion point around the dinner tables of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. We took a rural issue and made it important in urban electorates. That, to a large extent, assisted in softening the impact of the thing. The danger now lies in those  same dinner tables thinking it is “done” whilst we get “done” in the implementations. We need to be on top of – and involved in – Environmental Watering Plans, Water Recovery Strategies, Environmental Works and Measures
programs and countless funding and charging decisions. Each and every one of those has the capacity to turn the Plan on its head and leave us with the sort of outcomes that we don’t want. Now is the time for detail, the time to be vigilant and the time to be well informed. We need to hear from you and you need to hear from us. Thanks for staying in touch. 
M
ake no mistake – water is scarce and there are many competing demands. Ensuring sufficient Productive Water is and will continue to be an ongoing and difficult task. It’s far from done…

Read the full Productive Water Journal from Summer 2013 [HERE]

Editorial by Andrew Gregson

We chose the name “Productive” for very good reason. Irrigators are accused on the odd occasion of “wasting” water. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every drop that we extract is for productive use. Do you like wine?
It’s highly likely part of what you’re drinking was from irrigation. Enjoyed your orange juice at breakfast this morning? Again, highly likely that it was irrigated (because that’s Australian juice you’re drinking, right?). Rice with your dinner? Irrigated. Popcorn with your movie? Irrigated. If any Australian thinks they don’t have an interest in irrigation, they should take off everything they’re wearing that’s made of cotton. Perhaps close the blinds first.
There’s no doubt that at some stage in the Basin Plan process – and in every other policy move around water use – there are good intentions at play. Somewhere along the line with the Basin Plan, though, things derailed
and politics became the driving force. Basin Plan politics plays out differently for different sectors – what you hear in Adelaide is entirely different to what you hear in Brisbane. What you hear in Canberra is somewhere between the effectiveness of the lobby groups and the polling of marginal seats.
NSW Irrigators Council has spent plenty of time in the last few years reminding the metropolitan centres that the Basin Plan has real effects on them. A job loss is a job loss no matter where it occurs. Closure of communities will be felt everywhere. If the price of fresh food is forced up with the removal of water, it’s
everyone’s hip pocket that will suffer. That’s because irrigators use water for productive means. That production, according to a report just released by the NSW Government, results in 3.55 jobs being created by each and every irrigator just in their operation. Each operator then directs 60% of their farm expenditure into the nearest community where the dollars are productive again.
The equation is simple – water used for irrigation is Productive Water.

Read the full Productive Water Journal from Autumn 2012 [HERE]