By Trevor Harden, Clayton resident, 30 July 2009
Some thoughts after considering the facts:
- Most of the ‘protest’ noise being made
by the ‘action groups’ is about how bad things are down here - and we all
agree about that! It is terrible.
- But where the protesters depart from
logic and the facts, is where they try to blame some government conspiracy
for ‘doing this to the environment’ and ‘to them’.
- Because the government won’t do what
they want, they accuse them of arrogance and stupidity and of not caring
for the community or the environment – but maybe what they want just
doesn’t make sense.
- No-one blamed the government for the
1956 floods (or for Cyclone Tracey) - that would have been ridiculous.
- To blame the government for this extremely severe drought is
- The Murray Darling system is extremely
variable with inflow in more than half of all years being either well
above average or well below. Occasionally there are extremely high inflow
years (big floods) or extremely low inflow years (droughts).
- This drought is a record in both
severity and length – and it is continuing.
- Governments are clearly responding to
the situation – not creating it. Why would anyone want to take this action
if it wasn’t necessary. Desperate action to save what can be saved in
these desperate times.
- The environmental crisis is a very
obvious fact – emptying lakes – wetlands becoming dry lands – but what has
the government actually done to cause this? –and to generate such vehement
- They can’t blame the Wellington Weir –
it hasn’t been built yet. They can’t blame the regulator – it has not yet
- They can’t even blame the irrigators
upstream because there has not been enough water for them either – only
one third of the entitlement cap (which we all agree is too much and needs
fixing for the future) was taken out last year – a huge reduction.
- They claim that the government is
exaggerating the acid threat but the evidence is clear and acid corrosion
of structures from windblown lakebed dust is also a fact.
- The water shortfall created by the
drought has become the overwhelming causal factor for the crisis we see
before us – diversion upstream has become minor in comparison – the
numbers tell the story – but the protest groups are in drought denial –
they want to blame the government.
- An (unwarranted?) fixation on fresh
water has prevented a natural return to an estuarine wetland system with a
varying salinity mix between sea water at the mouth and freshwater at Wellington – it is only the barrages preventing
this from happening.
- An estuarine wetland at sea level
would be a valuable habitat for migrating birds – a grassy exposed lakebed
is not a wetland but a dryland habitat – of no value to the birds.
- People already distressed and anxious
about the drought and its effects are emotionally vulnerable to the
‘action group’ conspiracy accusations – and it winds up the emotion to
extreme levels. Depression and anger lead to antisocial behaviour –
already evident in our community.
- Responsible, objective media treatment is vital - to dampen down
the irrational and dysfunctional emotion being generated by the activists
and the political opportunists.