Something stinks out there at the moment. It is not just that there’s been a massive fish kill, but more so all the flies that have buzzed to it.
There’s an election coming and everybody with a barrow to push has landed for the free lunch.
The environment has access to more water than at any time since the Murray Darling Basin Plan kicked off, with releases at key times to fill wetlands and to make sure flows make it through to the Murray mouth.
But for many, that seems to be irrelevant. That is because a number of the barrows being pushed are full of a heap of bull crap.
One of these barrows, to take an example, is the argument against cotton, that it should be banned and that would solve everything.
This is despite general security water users in northern NSW not having had allocation for 18 months. So how would getting rid of cotton help the river?
It won’t. And that gets to the core of this water problem. It is about control and personal agendas, hence why we have an arbitrary water target.
Yet, the Murray Darling Basin Plan had to start somewhere, with targets to which the states could agree.
It is not going to undo 200-plus years of environmental neglect overnight, and it isn’t going to get all the answers right in one go.
Opposition Water spokesman Tony Burke makes a good point that, despite the fish kill, “there is not a single part of the Murray Darling Basin Plan that is a step backwards for the environment ...” (see Fish kill inquiries a wildcard for all Murray Darling irrigators).
For the rivers to function better long term, the results will come not just from looking at who owns what water, but increasingly, how it is used.
There needs to be an acceptance that we will, and can learn as we go. And that is also where the blame game at present is counterproductive.
Some of the loudest voices in the past week have done nothing more than highlight how little some of these “outraged” protesters understand about the big picture.
Let’s drop the outrage carry-on. Our governments hold the bulk of the water.
Instead of doing the predictable, reactionary cry for heads to roll, why aren’t we having more constructive discussions about how that publicly owned water is made more effective?
Everybody, drop your agendas. We’re sick of the blame game. There is an opportunity here to do some good and it’s being squandered for the sake of personal, political gain.