With drought biting hard in much of Queensland and NSW, many farmers are attempting to improve water distribution on their properties in order to give starving stock access to larger areas of grazing. While this is happening, bureaucrats in the capital cities are fretting over whether this will threaten the environment:
As the government steps up its drought relief, there's concern a move by the federal environment department might actually make it harder for graziers to roll out emergency water infrastructure.
Millions of dollars have already been spent installing bores, pipes and troughs to keep starving stock alive and yesterday's federal package increased the government's contribution from half to 75 per cent.
Yet, the federal environment department is currently investigating whether the 'proliferation, placement and management of artificial watering points' represents a threat to the environment.
It's a move that's incensed graziers and land managers who are questioning the department's decision to consider a nomination under the Environmental Protection Biodiversity and Conservation (EPBC) Act.
Northern Gulf NRM chief executive officer Grant Fawcett- based in Georgetown, about 400 kilometres west of Cairns - says getting the balance between economic and environmental benefits should be left to land managers. …
… But graziers such as former Cattle Council president Greg Brown, who've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars improving waters on his property, 'Meadowbank', says it shows federal bureaucrats are out of touch and he hopes the review is ignored.
"I think it's a rather strange sort of assertion myself. I would have thought that additional water in country would actually enhance the survival of wildlife and biodiversity."
"Obviously people are entitled to establish watering points on their own property... it's entirely up to you with regard to putting watering points around the place and I have some doubts as to whether they're going to be consulting the federal department of environment.” …
The greatest single asset of most farmers and graziers is their land, which is what they rely on to provide the majority, if not all of their income. They would be cutting their own throats economically were they to damage its productivity by carrying out actions with poor environmental outcomes.
They also understand the land and its workings far better than the average big city bureaucrat even though they don’t work for a government department and are not trained to apply theoretical ideas to hypothetical situations using self-righteousness as a guide.