26 December, 2011

Toorale Ramifications

The Sydney Morning Herald (David Wroe) has written a well balanced article on the waste of money in buying Toorale (pronounced Too-rally) Station at Bourke.http://www.smh.com.au/environment/station-buyout-a-waste-of-money-20111223-1p8ln.html.
 I attempted to leverage this with a letter to the Editor which failed to make the final cut-

"Congratulations to the SMH (Station buyout a waste of money- 23rd December) for "outing" the Commonwealth and former NSW State Government for the total waste of $23.75m in purchasing Toorale Station. Not only was this a waste of taxpayer's funds for negligible environmental benefit, it also took out of production the hard hit Bourke community's most productive enterprise. How downstream grazier Justin Mc Clure can argue that a 0.01% increase in flow can generate downstream environmental benefits is a real mystery.

The episode has wider ramifications in terms of the Draft Murray Darling Basin Plan. The Commonwealth Water Act 2007 and the approach of the Murray Darling Basin Authority is deeply flawed and the Toorale outcomes represent a good example of the likely consequences-negligible environmental benefit, but significant negative economic consequences. When flows are low, license conditions prevent extractions and diversions, when flows are significant the impacts of extractions and diversions are minimal. Dorothea Mackellar was absolutely right in describing inland Australia as a land of "droughts and flooding rains", she could have added and "not much in the middle".

In using absolute numbers as the MDBA has done, to prescribe acceptable extractions/diversions limits without gearing these to actual flows (availability) is really nonsense. To argue that these numbers are "averages" doesn't help, given the enormous spreads around the averages. Our current water bureaucrats could do worse than studying how the existing control system operates. It works rather well.
J.D.O.(David) Boyd
7A Eastern Arterial Road,
St Ives NSW 2075
Tel:   02 9449 7501
Mob: 0429 999 444
(Former Chairman and CEO of Clyde Agriculture, the previous owner of Toorale Station)"
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