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South Australian tax payers set to bail-out Managed Investment Schemes

Fair Water Use (Australia) has been investigating the Critical Water Allocation (CWA) Scheme recently announced by the State Government of South Australia, in view of concerns raised about its consequences.

At first glance, this appears to be a laudable initiative whereby "viable irrigators of permanent horticultural plantings in the River Murray corridor" in South Australia may apply for Government assistance in providing these crops with the additional water that is required to ensure their survival through the current financial year. This will be enabled by Government-underwritten acquisition of "critical water" for the purpose.

Most South Australian tax-payers would have few objections to the use of public funds to provide bridging assistance for mature vineyards, orchards and groves which have supported farming communities for decades.

However, Fair Water Use has been informed that, under the terms of the CWA Scheme, "permanent plantings" are defined as any approved crop put in the soil prior to the 1st of July 2008. The Riverland Response Centre, which is coordinating the initiative, has also indicated that agribusiness companies operating Managed Investment Schemes in the area are able to apply for CWA assistance.

FWUA Coordinator, Dr Ian Douglas, stated this morning that, if this were indeed the case, he doubted whether the South Australian public would support their dollars being used to improve the profitability of the vast irrigated plantations established by MIS groups in the last few years.

Dr Douglas continued, "The majority of these corporate irrigators have deplorable environmental credentials and are plundering the land and the River Murray for short-term financial gain".

Concerns have also been raised in recent months about the increasing number of large-scale MIS plantations in the region, and their impact on the profitability of smaller, often family-owned, mature plantings.

As farmers applying for assistance under the CWA scheme must be able to prove "the longer-term viability of their businesses", there are valid concerns that an unintended consequence of this scheme will be the demise of many of these smaller, less profitable farms which have supported the Riverland for countless decades; whilst the monoculture moonscapes recently created by water-hungry MIS Schemes are allowed to flourish - to the detriment of the river system, its environment and the very communities the scheme is designed to support.

"These MIS companies actively invested in the water-market, frequently with the financial support of overseas speculators, in the midst of the worst drought on record. They do not deserve the support of South Australian tax-payers", Dr Douglas concluded.

Authorised by: Ginny Brown, Media Coordinator media [AT] fairwateruse.com.au +61 (0)414 914248

Fair Water Use (Australia) +61 (0)8 8398 0812
PO Box 384, Balhannah, South Australia 5242
www.fairwateruse.com.au

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Comments

Hmm. Sounds like the Victorian governments' plan to take over farmland with Food Bowl Unlimited.
People should be aware that these plans for desalination, overpopulation, building big toll-ways, and for more big cities, are planned on an Australia-wide basis. So whatever happens in one state will soon happen in another, or some comparable project will. People should read: "Orwellian Waterworks: big-agribusiness and Victorian Gov", among others.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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