Trust. It is the number one value that enables society to function; without it there is unrest, uncertainty, suspicion and hopelessness.
Food producers across southern NSW have had no option other than to trust water managers – including those who make allocations and decisions about their property right – to treat them fairly.
There are of course a long and complicated set of rules those managing our most precious asset can hide behind if they want to make excuses that no water can be found.
While the recent rainfall and short flood events do not act as a credit to the environmental account, water coming into dams still needs to be set aside. Although it seems bizarre (and unfair), water which flooded out of Lake Mulwala does not count as environmental flows, even though it is of obvious benefit to the environment.
Once these would have been made available as off allocation water for access by food producers, but not anymore – although it benefits the environment it is no allocated as such, meaning there is less available for production.
Water is now flowing out of Menindee and down the Darling, which is fantastic to see and a relief for all those on the Lower Darling. However, NSW contributions to South Australian flows do not count, as again there is a long list of rules which dictate water sharing arrangements.
The NSW Department is now setting aside twice as much as previous years for high priority needs, again impacting on General Security holders who have to wait until every other bucket is satisfied, even though this is an ever-moving target.
A three percent allocation, as announced on May 15, is nothing more than a pat on the head, a crumb for the peasants in an attempt to prevent a revolt. To make matters worse, for those receiving the allocation it is not enough to do anything with – for most it will barely wet the channels. So, to meet the burden of debt that has built up over the past three years water will be sold on the temporary market, thereby given Government and their bureaucrats the impression that the water isn’t needed.
This vicious cycle must be stopped. We must look for opportunities so the trust can be rebuilt, because at this point it has been totally eroded by a political system that prioritises votes, and an inflexible bureaucracy that refuses to consider people and livelihoods.
We need a change of focus, with decisions made using quantitative based evidence; decisions that protect those who stand for what this nation is about – a fair go for hard working Aussies.