Politics Demands That Natural Resource Based Industries Be Decimated

Politics Demands That Natural Resource Based Industries Be Decimated
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The Victorian Farmers Federation has placed the pictured advertisement in numerous country newspapers. In summary, Federal Government purchases of water via the Murray Darling Basin Authority will greatly reduce the prosperity of the people in the irrigation areas of Victoria, as well as in NSW and SA.

The Victorian Water Minister Harriet Shing’s delay in allowing the MDBA to buy more water was optimistically portrayed as a defence of the livelihoods of people in irrigation regions. It more realistically appeared to be a tactic to gain more money from the Federal Government to help relieve Victoria’s gargantuan public debt. That it was a tactic to effectively extort money has in hindsight shown to be true.

Facts and figures

There are a number of facts and figures involved with water management. There are logistical facts, such as those expressed and displayed by the Victorian Farmers Federation, and then there are underlying undisclosed political facts.

Urban Population

Approximately 75% of Australia’s population and politicians reside in their State’s capital city and nearby urban areas. These populations are subject to popular media reporting supporting what is termed “saving the environment”, which translates as removing water from irrigation. As this population has little to no direct benefit in opposing this reporting, it is susceptible to its demands. Consequently, there is no political benefit for urban politicians to support the irrigation industry, but potentially there is plenty to lose.

South Australia

South Australia’s entire population is subject to Adelaide’s opinion forming newspaper The Advertiser. This newspaper stridently demands that practically all the water remains in the Murray River until it reaches South Australia. As this is after all the natural course of the water, the conclusion is that this is the environment that needs to be saved.

South Australia has ten members of the Federal House of Representatives and twelve Senators. Regardless of whether they are Liberal, Labor or something else, these politicians are united in demanding that the “environment be saved”, and that practically all the water ends up in South Australia.

In order to govern Australia, whether the government is a Liberal/National Party Coalition or the Labor Party, the support of South Australian politicians is essential. This is why regardless of who the Members of Parliament for the people in the irrigation areas are, or whether it is the Liberal/National Party Coalition or Labor governing, the water purchases and consequent destruction of the economies and livelihoods of people in the irrigation areas continues.


Remember that authority of water in rivers is specifically retained by the relevant States as written in Section 100 of the Australian Constitution.

Section 100: The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade or commerce, abridge the right of a State or of the residents therein to the reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation.

The Federal Government, via the Murray Darling Basin Authority, only manages water with the permission of the relevant States.

Notably, the water supplies of both Newcastle, Sydney, and Wollongong in NSW, and Geelong, Melbourne, and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, where over 75% of these States’ population and politicians reside, are outside the water catchment of the Murray Darling Basin i.e. their water supply is not related to the water system that their Members of Parliament are decimating.

In the 2023 NSW State election, 556,092 people voted for Parties in the Legislative Assembly that are opposed to using any water for irrigation i.e. The Greens with 451,344 and the Sustainable Australia Party (SAP) with 104,748. The vast majority of these voters reside in Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong and the north coast.

There are in addition many urban Liberal and Labor voters that are sympathetic to Green and SAP policies.

There are only a total of 545,993 voters in the eleven marked electorates.

In the 2022 Victorian State election, 416,069 people voted for The Greens in the Legislative Assembly, the vast majority of these located in the metropolitan area.

There are only 413,648 voters in the ten marked electorates.

Both these pictures illustrate the number of overwhelmingly urban voters who vote for parties opposed to natural resource based industries compared to the number of people living in the non-urban areas where these industries are located.

In practise, a Party standing candidates for election in the urban areas of NSW or Victoria will firstly consider the desires of its regular voter base, of which irrigation farming is irrelevant, and then secondly, consider the desires of The Greens voters, of which irrigation farming is very relevant, whose preference votes will often decide who is actually elected if The Greens candidate is eliminated.

Any candidate that proclaims that he or she will take water out of the Murray River so that rice and cotton can be grown in the Riverina will lose so many votes that he or she will not be elected. This is not tenable from a personal or Party perspective. Conversely, any candidate that proclaims that he or she will “save the environment” will at least not lose any votes.

The number of people in NSW and Victoria who vote for The Greens and SAP, and other sympathetic voters, will ensure that the irrigation industry, and actually all natural resource-based industries, will be subject to continuing suppression in these States.

A Riverina State

The political domination of both NSW and Victoria by their urban, Green oriented populations, is insurmountable. History has shown that it doesn’t matter what facts or figures are presented, or what representations are made, or what protests are staged, the decimation of the irrigation, and actually all natural resource based industries, continues. This is not because the facts and figures being presented are incorrect, or because the representations are inadequate, or because the protests are not seen; it is because the State’s politics demand that these industries be decimated.

A Riverina State, separate from both NSW and Victoria, naturally encompassing virtually all of the catchment area of the Murray Darling Basin, with its people directly affected by the style of water management, will ensure that water in rivers is managed responsibly, and for the benefit of the people living in this State, and for the many people that rely on food and fibre produced in this State for their very subsistence.

All people will benefit.

This State is needed, and it is needed, now!

David Landini

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