Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Drought and Water Resources David Littleproud on property in Inverell, NSW. Picture Kym Smith.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Drought and Water Resources David Littleproud on property in Inverell, NSW. Picture Kym Smith.

Overhaul of water infrastructure needed to combat drought

HERE'S a question. Why has 'drought strategy' become the modern-day equivalent of the Enigma Code? They cracked the Enigma Code, but someone has yet to 'crack' drought strategy.

Most people I'm sure would agree that more dams are the answer when it comes to the Federal Government implementing a drought strategy. And yet, mention "dams" and "drought strategy" in the same sentence and politicians start shuffling their feet and looking at the ceiling, hoping perhaps that Michelangelo has been up on the scaffolding and painted the answer on the weather boards with Dulux Weathershield.

Judging by Water Resources Minister David Littleproud's performance on Insiders a week ago, it's obvious, despite the hand wringing and rhetoric, the LNP hasn't got the foggiest about combating drought.


What's the plan, Stan, you may well ask? The answer is of course, "next question".

Mr Littleproud put in abysmal performance. Anyone from the bush watching and hoping he might have been about to offer a skerrick of hope, would have risen from their armchair after the program finished muttering "bloody Canberra politicians".

This was surprising because normally the Water Resources Minister is comfortable talking about all the issues swirling around his portfolio. But, on the subject of drought strategy he looked like he'd be more comfortable curled up in the foetal position on a doctor's table, mentally preparing himself for a personally invasive prostate examination.

Mr Littleproud might have made a meal of it if he had decided to make himself a water warrior instead of repeatedly saying "with due respect".

He could have hauled out the six shooters and talked up dams. That is what a water warrior would do. It's not just dams he could have spruiked. He could have said that the government was looking at providing subsidies for producers, small and large, to build their own off-stream storages.

These are dams or large earth tanks built beside creeks, rivers and even gullies. Whenever the watercourses flood the landholders, can, under license, pump water from them into their off-stream storages.

It's simple, but for some reason State and Federal Governments make it extremely complex.

This is because they are a bunch of environmental 'scaredy pants". It is the old story of bureaucracy and red tape and politicians who wet their jocks every time someone mentions dams. This drought, now it has extended into New South Wales and Victoria, is starting to turn the argument around in favour of dams.

At least we are starting to hear dams talked about instead of being dismissed as the talk of vandals, environmental rapists and whackos. Remember in the 1980s when Bob Katter talked about a revised Bradfield Scheme? Journalists and politicians ridiculed him without even knowing where it was what it was and who it might benefit. Well, wouldn't you just know it.

Now the Bradfield Scheme is being talked about as 'not a bad idea'. The Federal Government's drought strategy is still a blank canvas. Going on what Mr Littleproud said, the Federal Government is waiting on the National Farmers Federation to come up with a plan. That's the plan, Stan. It's up to the NFF.