We should say right off that this paper’s an advance on the 2013 strategy in that it confronts the question of climate change, something the Coalition government habitually covered up with the gormless phrase, ‘natural climate variability.’
There are some things in it which are disconcerting, however.
One is the role of the desal plant. It’s hard to see how use of this heavy emitter sits with the paper’s stated aim of achieving ‘carbon neutrality’ for the water sector.
Another is confirmation that the Murray Darling basin plan will deliver 2,750 gigalitres of water back into the system as environmental flows. This is maybe half of what scientists say is necessary to keep the system viable: but the paper confirms that more will only be available if it can be delivered ‘with neutral or positive socio-economic effects.’ This is peculiar logic: if the river system dies, or goes into steep decline, wouldn’t that have an extremely negative ‘socio economic effect’?
The discussion paper, packed as it is with charts and diagrams, isn’t an easy read—but it’s hard to find a more important subject to think about–so if you have the time, put in your oar. FOBIF will be making a short submission to the discussion.