A second draft policy has been leaked and this one it favours spending $30Billion constructing 100 dams across the nation. Are not all in the ‘north’ or are some to shore up electorates further south?.
One danger with dams is that spending a heap on them can lead to all sorts of problems downstream. Brisbane had the mismanaged dam that exacerbated flooding, other catchments find their river downstream of the dam affected as water becomes a scarcer commodity. The Snowy stands out as a local example.
Rainfall can decline and see those investments fulfil no function for some years having led investors up the garden path, the obverse of desalinization plants built partly because of repeated delays, denial and ineptitude on the part of governments as their attitude to the danger of climate instability matched their later unpreparedness for catastrophic bushfires.
But its not just the decline in rainfall that creates risk. Twice in a few weeks we are seeing the mid north coast of NSW cop a drenching. Burringbar has had a metre of rain so far this year.
The Clarence, the Mary, the Bellingen, the Macleay, the Tweed, the Hastings. Which River will it be and what of those who are unprotected by a dam, if it is designed for such a purpose?.
All these Rivers have flooded in recent times, impacted by more intense rainfall. Then there are those Rivers that have recorded flooding in the past. When will their turn come?.
How do you plan for such a year or will the dams be just a nonsense that people cannot depend upon?.
Melbourne may not need the Wonthaggi desalinization plant right now but Gippsland sure does, its town water demands outstripping supply.
Whilst Brisbane may have been somewhat flood proofed with new dams, the watercourses discharging onto the coastal plans in northern NSW and north of Brisbane are not so easily protected with a single earthwork.
Will Tony’s dams drought proof the driest continent on earth or are they there to capture the Katter preferences in a country where voters are alienated with both sides of politics?.
Katter offers some dangers.
One is that voters will support the KAP lower house candidates and having protested will return to their ‘normal’ pattern. This could cost Abbott in the outer suburban marginals that he hopes to take from Labor.
Another is the Liberals coalition partners shrink even further and possibly loose party status as the Nationals vote is eroded from both sides. The Greens have shown that they want to defend farmers rights through their support for the Lock the gate movement.
Lastly, is that he will have to deal with a Senate where he has to negotiate with the KAP, not simply attack them as he has the Greens. KAP has a different constituency, one both old parties depend upon to gain government.
With 4 blocks of votes in the Senate and none of them providing a majority, the whole will not be as predictable as it is now with 3. Wedging through alliances will take on a whole new meaning.
Abbott will find it hard to change that with a double dissolution election if he has a Campbell Newman approach to his early days, an approach he flags by talking of a bloated public service and the need to cut some expenditures.
So will the dams be used to stimulate development, northern or food bowl, or are they mirages and baubels, there to buy votes for Tony’s last chance.
Certainly some dams are necessary and so it must follow that some new ones are.
But what Tony of your Climate policy decisions that will lead to increased Climate instability.
More coal, less investment in alternative energy, less public transport, more roads, no emissions trading, a cost to the taxpayer with no real emissions reductions over time spiking the recovery bills from bigger floods, more intense bushfires and wind storms.
Increased climate instability makes planning dams more difficult. Will it be higher or lower rainfall and if so for how long?. Is it a larger dam to provide for long dries or to absorb torrential rains?.
How are environmental flows maintained or are we to see an outbreak of Murray Darling problems affecting more and more land across the food production areas.
There will be yards of words about Australia as a food bowl for Asia’s burgeoning middle class, the essential nature of dams in growing that economic direction and perhaps even how this is a post mining role for the national economy.
What will not be mentioned is it is that very growth that, without a decline in fossil fuel use and the associated emissions that will see the basic factors supporting the food bowl change in a way that reduces the predictability of a return on investment.
It is all very well to say farmer’s will simply change their crops to those more suited to hotter climes but it is not as easy as that. Orchardists have to pull their old trees and wait for the new to mature, graziers in the NT will have to face increased summer temperatures for their stock in a landscape where shade trees are likely to decline because of those changes to temperature and rainfall.
Irrigators will have to use more water because of increased evapotranspiration and it is doubtful that the price of a resource limited by nature and the associated investment in making it available will decline.
So whilst a simplistic readily marketable solution appealing to old ideas may lead in Tony’s policy suite for the countryside, the reality is that more dams bringing more good times in what is essentially a contradictory set of policies, when the policies on addressing the changes we are causing to the Climate are taken into account, should leave the thinking voter wondering if they will do and say anything to get elected, knowing full well they mean none of it wherever the longer term is behind the offer.
Government should not be given to those who don’t have consistent policies, especially in a key area like climate.
Flagged for abolition is the Federal Departments of Climate Change. This act will be from a government that supposedly believes the climate is changing and are prepared to do bugger all about it.