Broaden the terms for royal commission

By Corowa Free Press

The proposed royal commission following this season’s fire disasters needs to extend to other natural resource management. Speak Up Campaign deputy chair Lachlan Marshall said we have a natural resource crisis in our nation that must be addressed.

“We all acknowledge there is a changing climate and it is imperative we alter many of our policies to deal with it, but climate change is only a small piece of the puzzle. And the problem extends beyond fire control,” he said.

“Due to the fires the shortage of dairy products and other staple foods has been highlighted, but this is not being caused only by fire damage in recent weeks.

“Failure to effectively manage our water resources has had a massive impact on many dairy farms, including my family’s farm. We have been calling for a royal commission to investigate water mismanagement, and broad terms of the inquiry suggested by Prime Minister Morrison are needed to cover this.

“Fire and water go hand in hand; we have to start looking at the full picture and developing policy to suit the changes occurring in our nation,” Mr Marshall said.

Reports have suggested sheep and cattle losses from the fires at 120,000 to 140,000, and milk supplies may take years to recover.

“We are already importing dairy products, as well as wheat, and if we do not take action Australia will have a food security crisis on its hands. At the same time as we have some of the most productive land in the country lying idle, we are pouring massive quantities of water out to sea. According to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s annual report, 342 gigalitres were released through the barrages last year. That is enough to grow literally billions of dollars worth of food and fibre, support struggling rural communities and boost our national prosperity.

“Our nation cannot afford waste of this magnitude. We have to understand that with the changing climate the days of wasting water like this must come to an end.

“I understand this will take political courage, which is not something we have seen in the water debate, but surely we must now draw a line in the sand,” Mr Marshall said.

He added it was frustrating to continually read and watch people who had lived and worked with their land for generations, trying to highlight the mistakes that have been made in natural resource management. But constantly their voices fall on deaf ears, drowned out by the city-based progressives who do not understand the Australian environment and its history.

“The level of community consultation is laughable. Bureaucrats go through a ‘tick the box’ exercise, then draw up policy that suits a political agenda. Now, we are paying the price.

“A royal commission into all natural resource management is needed to bring this flawed approach to a head and get action that will protect our nation, its people and its environment,” Mr Marshall said.