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Australian Governments Agree Small Towns are Economically Negative Assets!

Governments agree dysfunctional, downscale communities deserve to die.



Wakool Hotel
Wakool fighting on

Forgive me for any inaccuracies in the details of the following brief summary of Australia’s recent history. However, in a general sense, this is how it appears to have unfolded.

Bob Hawke lifted tariffs on imported goods and took out several sectors of Australian manufacturing virtually overnight. Keating opened up and deregulated the financial market which included selling off the Commonwealth Bank. Howard came along and asset stripped the place. Turnbull came along and continued the selling, continued the weaponisation of the FIRB in favour of foreign interests, failed to secure a national energy supply from our own national resources and oversaw the continued selling of our natural resources including, unbelievably, our water.

While there may be some omissions or mis-attributions, that seems to be roughly what has happened.

Governments, at all levels over this time, have increased the cost and complexity of doing business. They have imposed more and more internal regulation making it harder and harder for Australian business of all types to survive, let alone thrive. With the virtual removal of manufacturing, Australia has now become a mainly service economy.

This has all been done in the name of globilisation, the dream of free trade between countries to everyone’s mutual benefit.

Other countries – our trading ‘partners’ – still have tariffs, still have high levels of subsidies (tariffs by another mechanism) and still have vastly different wage and work conditions giving them, in many cases, a tremendous comparative advantage. More often than not, we cannot do in their country what they are allowed to do in ours in terms of land and business ownership.

Remember the level playing field? Instead of that dreamy piece of lying propaganda, a totally unprepared and under-informed Australia was rolled over onto its back while the rest of the world picked us to pieces. We have been asset stripped, demanufactured, privatised and are in very real terms, and don’t laugh, in danger of being dispossessed.

Meanwhile, globalisation, which is now really a Trojan horse for global corporatisation, continues with pace. The actual end vision of globalisation has never been openly discussed with the Australian public – or any other public for that matter. There has never been any type of referendum or plebiscite on whether or not that is what we wanted to do with out lives.

The imposition of globalisation has had far reaching and incredibly disrupting and in many cases very destructive outcomes. It has cost lives, it has destroyed families and communities and it has nearly destroyed our representative democracy.

It is not hard to argue that the social and environmental destruction caused by globalisation is mirrored in the social and environmental destruction caused by the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Likewise, it is not hard to recognise the common fanaticism and commitment for both to be completed ‘in full and on time’, despite the environmental destruction and social upheaval they are causing.

These plans are locked in. Globalisation is the most relevant and powerful change driver in our country at this time. It is also the least discussed. It has been implemented without education of the public about the known changes it is forcing upon us as individuals, communities and as a country.

This ideology has been forced upon us intentionally. What we are experiencing is not a mistake.

Globalisation is simply an ideology; it not a necessity. Nonetheless, its predictable impacts upon the people of this country, especially those in the rural sectors, has been devastating. These impacts are not only predictable, they are, in fact, built into the model.

Demonstrations against the many appalling social and environmental outcomes in the Murray Darling Basin are valuable actions and they are indeed causing some political maneuvering. However, the reality is that the MDBA, federal and state politicians are all minor players in a much bigger game. If we really want to solve this issue, there are bigger fish to fry.

In closing I would like to quote a passage from the book ‘Rusted Off’ by Gabrielle Chan (Vintage Books Australia, 2018). If you live in a struggling rural community, look no further than the last paragraph for the answer to your current situation.

“I started covering politics during the dying days of the Keating government, and the underlying message from economists since then has been small towns do not work in an age of globalisation. This is an international argument.

The most blunt statement of it in recent times was from Kevin D Williamson in the ‘Nation Review’ (USA), talking about the near dead tiny town of Garbutt, in New York State, prior to Trump’s election.

“The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets.”

Ask your local state and federal member about that….. Wadayathinkothis?


Murray Darling Basin residents subjected to negative health and social outcomes deliberately

Consequences of Murray Darling Basin decisions well known




Health Concerns in the Murray Darling Basin

Health Concerns in the Murray Darling Basin. Image Credit: Ian Wall

There is a figure used in finance in America that states for every 1% increase in unemployment, 40,000 people die. While that exact figure might be argued, the fact that there are personal and social health consequences to government and corporate decisions cannot be argued.

These health consequences are known to anyone who has studied economics, government administration, town planning, finance, banking, law, public health, medicine and so on. In other words, information that is known to everyone in government and the corporate world.

These health and social outcomes are certain. They are predictable. They are, in some cases, quite accurately quantifiable prior to the decision being made. They are predictable, certain, known.

Those health and social outcomes include, yet are not limited to-
Deaths as a result of suicide, reduced medical and health support services, risks associated with changes in living standards and arrangements (the dangers of being homeless for example), increased medication and drug use, social unrest and so on.

Mental health issues brought on by sudden changes in circumstance, extended periods of mental and emotional stress during periods of forced change, financial ruin are certain and known.

Family unit breakdowns, business failures, community relationships being lost, communities themselves being weakened and destroyed.

The business failures and community breakdowns due to the shift of economic production are all certain and known outcomes of government and corporate decisions.

These outcomes are seen in government projects such as the Murray Darling Basin and in corporate events such as the closing of manufacturing facilities.

So, when we look at the economic, environmental and social mess that is the Murray Darling scheme, we should see it clearly through the lens of knowing that everyone of those decision were intentional and their outcomes were predictable and in many cases quantifiable. We should know that in the face of that knowledge, those decisons were made anyway.

That should change the way we see what has happened, it should change the way we react to what has happened and it should change the way in which we try to redress what has happened. Throughout the Murray Darling Basin, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, what is happening to you now is not the mistake of some dumb politician.

The simple truth is, it is the known outcome of an intentional decision.

How does that make you feel?

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Intentional and Predictable

At the core of the problems in the Murray Darling Basin lies the elephant in the room, Every single action carried out by those currently in charge is Intentional and Deliberate and the outcomes have been Predictable




Dead Dry Fauna on the Dry Darling River
Intentional and Deliberate, Dead remains in the base of the Darling River (Image credit: Mark Merritt, Earthling Studios)

At the core of the problems in the Murray Darling Basin lies the elephant in the room, Every single action carried out by the Corporations, Federal Government, The MDBA, WaterNSW, all actions by these parties are intentional.

It’s a mistake to think that these actions are mal-administration, they are in fact deliberate administration.

Included in these intentional actions is the framing of the legislation ( The Water Act 2007 ) and the creation of the Murray Darling Basin Authority. All Intentional. Further, these intentional acts have been supported through successive Labour and LNP governments.

The fact that there is no royal commission into the scheme is also intentional.

Water being allowed to be traded off farm and internationally, Intentional.

Foreign investors profiteering from Australian water at the expense of Australian Farmers

Foreign investors profiteering from Australian water at the expense of Australian Farmers

Corporations funded by tax payers to shift their operations away from the regions which are being dried up, Intentional.

Draining of the Menindee Lakes ( Rapid Draw Down Policy ), Intentional.

The destruction of a nationally significant ecosystem, Intentional.

Increased water prices and smaller farmers being forced off their land, Predictable.

Decline of Rural Communities, Predictable.

Severe community health outcomes, including suicide, depression, family breakdowns, small business destruction, and regional depopulation, KNOWN PREDICTABLE OUTCOMES.

Destruction of environments, Predictable and Intentional.

The only way we can address these problems is to redress the environmental modifications carried out by corporate agribusiness, halt rapid draw down from Menindee Lakes and decommission the Wentworth to Broken Hill Pipeline and all other infrastructure built without sound science or business plans, including reassessment of the SA Barrages and, investigate and bring to justice any minister, bureaucrat, authority and corporate entity who have acted illegally. Finally we need input and engagement with farmers, irrigators, first nations people and scientists who all need an equal seat at the table where corporate and political influence is negated via full transparency.


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A generation raised on a river of pain




Murray River near Lock 10 Wentworth
Image Courtesy: Sally harding: The Murray River near Lock 10 Wentworth, water in the river doesn't always mean farmers get water allocations.

Recent discussion on Facebook led us to the idea of asking for real stories from Murray Darling Basin residents, Sally Harding has kindly offered an opinion piece she wrote based on her real experiences with locals who have suffered through this ongoing man-made disaster, remembering for a moment, this story is based on actual events that have been, and are happening right now in the Murray Darling Basin.

A Generation raised on a river of pain, by Sally Harding.

If I had an old-fashioned paper map of Australia, and one of my kids’ marker pens, I would circle a large section to the east.

In this wide brown and green area with blue capillaries criss-crossing several states is a chapter of ecological and humanitarian shame happening right now.

Murray Darling Basin

Image Courtesy The Murray Darling Basin covers 14% of Australia’s land mass

It’s the area known as the Murray Darling Basin and it is a bloody battleground for water.

Go ahead and Google it – but be warned, you’ll be having screen time for quite a while.

Like most people, you’ll probably decide it’s a problem too wicked to understand or attempt to influence – something that is arguably working in favour of those accused of hijacking a national water source for political gain.

Time will pass, as it always does, and the multi-powers that manage the river system will continue to justify who gets what and who goes without.

Fortunately history has a way of being kind to masses that suffer in silence.

There might eventually be a much-wanted Federal Royal Commission and, for good measure, a much-needed national apology to the victims (including a million fish).

That may help right some wrongs and provide a sense of justice, but what will remain is a river system and once-thriving communities that may never recover.

Our primary producers, once the pride of the nation for allowing Australia to ride off the sheep’s back and into the global market, have become a politicised commodity themselves.

The lucky ones are those that fate situated upstream or downstream. Those in the middle – ironically enough, Australia’s premier foodbowl – seem to be without friends in high places.

Pressure to grow crops without the security of water (plus the cruelty of watching it rush out to sea, in the state next door) is like a noose around the necks of once-productive Riverina farmers and irrigators.

The MDBA Highway to Hell

Image:Craig Williams, A trip down the MDBA Highway to Hell is not for the faint hearted

It is a dire situation that is creating a generation of children growing up with at least one parent with anxiety or depression, mostly undiagnosed.

The other parent, often a wife and mother, might have a day job in town to make ends meet, barely hanging in there herself but too afraid to admit it.

The necessity to be the breadwinner keeps the household afloat but only adds to the weight of her husband’s crushing burden to provide and sense of failure.

She no longer catches up with friends or attends meetings at night, not because she’s antisocial but because she is too afraid to leave her husband and the gun cabinet alone together.

She has become an actress, pretending to her children, her husband and fellow townsfolk that better times are around the corner, not knowing when that will be and for how long the stretched can be stretched any further.

She smiles a thousand lies because that flash of hope could mean the difference between life and death for those who have been forced to sell their stock, sell the water allocation they desperately need themselves or sell the family farm where they were born and their grandparents died.

This has become the lot of the Riverina farmer’s wife: to somehow protect loved ones as they work themselves into the ground without the one thing they really need – equitable water.

As one farmer said: “In the city people work to live. Here, we live to work.”

Disturbingly, that same farmer estimates that 95% of business owners and primary producers in his town are “nervous wrecks.”
At the base of the Darling River, which is dependent on the generosity of both nature and political powers up north to flow, mothers of infants are also nervous wrecks.

They have no choice but to bathe their children in toxic ‘dead’ water, while other mothers choose to leave the district for the term of their pregnancies, worried about birth defects in their unborn children.

Some communities are crowd funding to pay for bottled water to be trucked in. That’s right, they are begging for access to clean drinking water.

If it takes a village to raise a child, these are not villages fit for any Australian child.

A video of a pair of grown men crying over the death of native fish went global earlier in the year, shocking an expat living in London into holding a rally outside of the Australian embassy with the catchcry ‘Save the Darling River’.

If those on the other side of the world can see why that big ring on my fictitious map is a haunting spectre, why does it not seem to worry those who govern the country and have the power to fix the problem as a matter of urgency?

We’d like to once again thank Sally Harding for this story, we really appreciate your input.

What can you do to help

For those reading this post and wondering what you might do to help the people in the Murray Darling Basin, my advise is to use your powers at the federal election in May this year, Put the National Party last on your ballot paper. Please also feel free to forward this story to your local state or federal member, as well as passing this story onto any of your friends on Facebook or via email, tell all of your friends of the catastrophic situation in the Murray Darling Basin. Oh and don’t believe for one minute that this situation is entirely created by the drought, NSW and Federal Government policies have been major contributors to this national disgrace.

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