Water Week

EWN Publishing

If permanent plantings in Murray-Darling Basin die, it will cost up to $4 billion to replace them; water propels to top of political agenda

Posted by waterweek on 27 September 2007

According to Selina Mitchell and Paul Maley, the unprecedented crisis in the Murray-Darling Basin has propelled water to the top of the political agenda, reported The Australian (22/9/2007, p. 1).

Howard and Rudd battle for farmer’s votes: John Howard and Kevin Rudd are now battling to convince voters they can alleviate the devastating effects of Australia’s prolonged drought. Farmers predict that if all the perma­nent plantings in the basin die it will cost up to $4 billion to replace them and the lost income could total $8 billion.

Farmers call for assistance: Farmers are calling for the recovery package to include measures to assist farmers to exit the industry with dignity — but also to ensure viable farmers can stay on their land until they can get back to full production. That would take a minimum of three years for grape growers and 10 years for almond growers.

Financil counsellors to help decision making: They also want money for voluntary water buybacks, the protection of re­search and genetic plant material and breeding stock, help with replanting when it rains — and social support for affected communities until it does. Horticulture groups want more financial counsellors to help farmers decide whether they should bulldoze their plants, prune them and put them into hibernation, or buy increasingly expensive water to keep them alive this season.

The Australian, 22/9/2007, p. 1

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