Deniliquin and district irrigator groups welcome plan to build 100 dams across Australia.By Zoe McMaugh
The Federal Opposition’s plans to ‘drought-proof’ Australia has been welcomed by local irrigator and community groups.
The Coalition’s plans to build 100 new dams across the country were leaked to the media last week.
The policy, which was developed as a sweetener for rural Australia ahead of September’s federal election, has been described as ‘‘sensible’’ by the National Irrigators’ Council (NIC).
Southern Riverina Irrigators’ chair Denis Tinkler admitted the policy may have little direct impact on the local area, but said it was certainly worth pursuing for the good of the nation.
‘‘It should be looked at and not dispensed because it does not fit in with policy ideology aimed to please the Greens.
‘‘It’s problematic to think dams could be built in this region; I believe they are perhaps planned for further north.
‘‘But as a whole, it is certainly a policy which must be considered.’’
Mr Tinkler said it was because of dams that this region had access to water for most basic needs during the drought, but warned the plan would not actually drought-proof the nation.
‘‘You cannot drought-proof Australia, it’s simply not possible.
‘‘But it does not mean (the Coalition policy) is not a damn good idea.
‘‘We got through the millennium drought with stock and domestic water, and without dams that would not have happened.’’
Mr Tinkler said the challenge for the Coalition if it pushed ahead with the policy would be finding sites for the proposed dams, saying ‘‘the best have already been found’’.
NIC CEO Tom Chesson said the Coalition policy could go a long way in meeting future food security challenges both here and abroad.
He also said it was about time there was sensible discussion on what Australia’s future needs are and how they can be delivered in a sustainable way.
‘‘We believe that with the predictions of more extreme weather events, conserving water for times of drought and protecting lives and property during major flooding events is both a necessity and a logical climate change mitigation tool.
‘‘Our food and fibre producers are always at the mercy of the climate.
‘‘Irrigation is the nation’s insurance against weather extremes impacting on food security and without a comprehensive water plan which includes improving existing water infrastructure and building new dams, Australia’s food supplies could be in jeopardy.
‘‘As a nation we have dropped the ball on major water infrastructure and we paid a high price during the last drought when expensive emergency measures had to be enacted.
‘‘Coupled with the loss of life and damage to infrastructure from flooding it is extremely irresponsible not to have a major discussion on building new water conservation infrastructure.’’
~ Zoe McMaugh
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