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Private profit at public cost - Corporates muddy water over buy-back in Murray Darling Basin

Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) – independent authority or rubber stamp?

Over the last decade, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and its predecessor the Murray-Darling Basin Commission have been hamstrung by the National Water Initiative, which is promoting the privatisation of Australia's water: to the joy of speculators and the dismay of those who understand the need to promote wise and sustainable use of the nation's water.

MDBA – independent authority or rubber stamp?

News that neither the Federal Environment Minister nor the new Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority are willing to endorse current members of the MDBA board will come as no surprise to many Australians, according to a statement released by public water rights and environmental advocacy group, Fair Water Use (Australia):

“The Federal Government has clearly been backed into a corner by the partisan and occasionally outrageous behaviour of those who view water as a private commodity rather than an invaluable common resource which must be managed carefully for all Australians.

There is little doubt that the pressure tactics of maverick sections of the irrigation lobby, and corporate players increasingly investing in Australian water, have already precipitated the resignations of the previous Chair and one board member, both possessing a wealth of experience in environmental matters - and it is highly likely that more resignations will follow.

Over the last decade, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and its predecessor the Murray-Darling Basin Commission have been hamstrung by the National Water Initiative, which is promoting the privatisation of Australia's water: to the joy of speculators and the dismay of those who understand the need to promote wise and sustainable use of the nation's water.

There are serious concerns that we are witnessing the final stages of the shameful rebadging of the Authority from guardian of the Murray-Darling to a mere rubber stamp for politically expedient, cynical policies which will only promote continuation of the overexploitation of the nation’s most vital river system.

It is entirely unacceptable that Australians have been deprived of their democratic right to determine whether this country’s water is protected as a common good or treated as a commodity to be traded on global financial markets.”

Source: Media Release from Fair Water Use, 7th March 2011

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Comments

Privatization of water is a disaster for Melbourne. Water is a birthright, a basic of life. Mr Holding said PPPs provided the best value for money to the taxpayer, but he provided no evidence of this and figures needed to do so are confidential. Mr Brumby warned that our water cost would double with the desalination plant.

Privatization is also at odds with the reality that the private entities view the responsible management of water as secondary to their prime aims - unfettered infrastructure development and consumption-based profiteering. We are obliqued to pay the cartel for the Wonthaggi desalination plant whether we want it, or need it. Mr Brumby has left a $24 billion debt for the public to pay!
70% of our water is used for agriculture. Private organisations won't be interested in environmental concerns, but commercial returns.

Julia Gillard's carbon tax wouldn't be so bad if she wasn't at the same time intent on ongoing and contradictory population growth. Her popularity rating is now as low as Kevin Rudd's was when she deposed him. His "big Australia" gaffe should surely be a lesson for her to learn from?

If State governments hadn't gone ahead and privatised gas and electricity, then their commercial interests would not be such an impediment to directly investing in renewable energy sources. These companies have to be cajoled and persuaded by market forces through the carbon tax to, maybe, invest in renewable energy. Private companies are interested in profits and growth, not the public or the long-term impacts of climate change.

Our State governments are thus not free to directly invest in renewable energy, and this indirect carbon tax, and the compensation for the public, is so roundabout, and full of contradictions, that's it's doubtful the public can really see anything to gain from it, or that it will really have any impacts on mitigating climate change.

It's just another complicated and expensive tax that will blow out family budgets even further. We should be directly paying for renewable energy sources, not relying on possible market forces to do it.

Private ownership reduces local control and public rights.