SENATOR MADIGANTHE current water allocation system confronting struggling farmers has been described as “extortion”.
Citing a Kerang district farmer’s financial plight, Independent Senator for Victoria, John Madigan has told Parliament that real people are facing immeasurable hardship because of the current structure of the water market. Senator Madigan compared the $13 billion budget of the Murray Darling Basin Plan with a struggling farming family pushed to the brink to pay their bills.
In an impassioned speech in the Senate, he spoke of “real people facing immeasurable hardship, real people facing loss, real people getting out of bed every day and facing the increasing challenge of survival”.
Senator Madigan quoted extensively from a letter received from a constituent, the wife of a farmer in the Shire of Gannawarra.
Senator Madigan outlined the family-of-four’s budget after costs, which left them with $1527 a month for food, clothes, school fees, household accounts as well as repairs and maintenance to their home.
Quoting from the letter, Senator Madigan said: “In the country’s wisdom, water has been sold away from the land holders. Now it becomes a game for the investors who wait until farmers are desperate. They wait until it’s so dry that farmers have to buy water to keep their animals alive. Speculators wait until then because that is when they will make the biggest profit.”
In the letter, June [not her real name] explained her farm was entitled to usage of 385 megalitres of water on the current market. The cost for one season would be $103,950. If the family attempted to buy the right permanently, it would cost $847,000.
“This is madness,” Senator Madigan said.
“This is extortion.”
And quoting again from the letter: “Surely by now you can see how this system cannot possibly work. Farmers are being stripped bare, paying premium prices, selling at ridiculously low prices and being charged for the freight. Meanwhile forests are burning down because they are not grazed and there is too much fuel on the ground. Rivers are going stagnant and growing algae because of the lack of flow.
“Good healthy Australian produce is being decimated and replaced on the supermarket shelves with imported products not grown to our exacting standards, imported products full of chemicals and enhancers that are being fed to an ever-increasing society with major health issues. What happened to common sense?”
Senator Madigan told the Senate he would support amendments to the Water Act.
“I do not support the Plan, but I will vote in support of these amendments,” Senator Madigan said.
“If they bring only a pinch of improvement and relief for our farmers and our irrigators, they deserve to be passed. But may this be only the start of the return of common-sense to our agricultural and water policy in this country.”
• A full transcript of the speech can be find at: http://老域名johnmadigan老域名备案老域名/speeches/realcostofwater
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