Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Wilderness Society on the Northern Dams Study

The Commonwealth has instructed CSIRO to  instructs CSIRO to find dam sites in northern Australia.

The Wilderness SocietyWilderness Society spokesman Gavan McFadzean calls this “a futile waste of time and taxpayer’s money”.

“The Coalition has refused to accept the expert Northern Land and Water Taskforce’s 2009 report,” Mr McFadzean said.

“Which found little scope to expand irrigated agriculture, from the current 20,000 hectares to just 60,000 hectares – less than the size of some Australian farms.”

You can read his statement here:

THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY INC. MEDIA RELEASE June 10, 2014

 

Northern dam study a futile waste of time and taxpayer’s money

• Federal government’s Green Paper sets up yet another Taskforce and instructs CSIRO to find dam sites in northern Australia

• Northern Australia is a graveyard for failed large-scale dams and irrigated agriculture projects

• Dams will be a taxpayer-funded environmental disaster that will fail to grow food crops

The Commonwealth government’s Green Paper into the Development of Northern Australia has failed to heed the lessons of the past as it continues to pursue the discredited business model of building dams to convert northern Australia into a vast irrigated agriculture project to grow food for Asia.

“The federal government still doesn’t get it,” said Wilderness Society Northern Australia Campaigner Gavan McFadzean. “We have lost count of the number of Taskforces that federal governments have established over the years, in the hope that they will somehow find a different conclusion than big dam and irrigated agriculture development will be a taxpayer funded, environmentally destructive failure.

“Despite a litany of failed attempts, $1.5 billion dollars of taxpayer’s money pumped into the failed Ord irrigation scheme, and despite countless scientific, economic and environmental studies raising huge constraints about dams in the north, it beggars belief that they still want to go down this path.”

The Green Paper into Development in Northern Australia will direct the CSIRO to identify new dam sites as part of the Coalition’s plan to dramatically increase the development of the region, and is considering the establishment of a water project development fund for northern Australia to drive new projects.

“We are shocked that the Commonwealth will spend more money telling us what we already know. The Coalition has refused to accept the expert Northern Land and Water Taskforce’s 2009 report, which found little scope to expand irrigated agriculture, from the current 20,000 hectares to just 60,000 hectares – less than the size of some Australian farms.

“Federal, state and Territory governments are determined to trash the north in the name of development. Big new dams and agriculture schemes will destroy northern Australia’s landscapes and wildlife; wiping out hundreds of thousands of hectares of native vegetation, draining and polluting rivers, bulldozing roads and irrigation channels through spectacular landscapes, industrialising its pristine coasts with ports and dredging.

 

“Big dams and agriculture schemes promise the world but rarely deliver long-term benefits to local communities and especially Indigenous people. They are pushed by big business and foreign investors, take the best land and water, send much of the profits overseas and leave behind a trail of environmental destruction and broken communities.

 

“All big irrigation projects have been expensive spectacular failures, including Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory and the Ord and Camballin in Western Australia. Crops have failed because of the extreme climate and evaporation, poor soils, the intensity of the monsoon and the economics just doesn’t add up.

 

“Nearly $1.5 billion has been ploughed into the Ord scheme, yet all attempts at broad acre cropping have failed, including rice, sugar and cotton. Almost half the Ord is now planted with sandalwood for incense and perfume hardly useful for feeding Asia.

 

“Northern Australia can have a thriving economy without destroying its landscapes and wildlife; an economy based on sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, tourism, arts, carbon farming, land and fire management, weed and feral animal control, and becoming an Asia-Pacific hub for education and tropical health.”

 

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