05 February 2007

Under the water

The whole reason why Howard announced the water package was so Turnbull couldn’t claim credit for it. Turnbull’s job is to do what he’s told rather than dream the big dreams.

It’s fascinating to consider that when securing access to water, farmers have to pay an organisation which cannot guarantee supply. This is why the amount of water povided in licences exceeds the amount available. Never mind s100 or whatever - this is an act of fraud on the part of state governments. The water licenced out by Queensland is the same water licenced by other states, and none of them can make it rain.

We all agree that water should cost more than it does. “Let’s do it for the market!”, “Let’s do it for the environment!”, “Let’s do it for social justice!” - it all leads us back to paying more for water. Cotton is not a high-value product, and an increase in the cost of inputs will render the whole industry uncompetitive in short order. It will free up money to invest in something that might actually guarantee a high return (ya gotta have your dreams!). Political consensus always gives me the willies and has me checking the exits.

I’m no fan of agrarian socialism, but Australian policy beyond the next election had better be prepared for a whole bunch of country towns to die, an influx of low-skill and not very wealthy people into cities, a spike in unemployment and other symptoms of social dislocation - all in the name of “social justice”, “the environment”, “the market”, or whatever.

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