Recently we had community meetings using the Adelphi Technique at Maffra and Bairnsdale in Gippsland for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to present a discussion paper on a future Victorian Water Plan.
As a person who has exposed the hypocrisy of these types of plans before, I was horrified at the lengths the government had gone to put this together to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the Victorian rural population, especially farmers.
Section 100 of the Australian Constitution states:
‘‘The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade or commerce, abridge the right of a State or of the residents therein to the reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation.’’
For more than 100 years it has been a common law right that water for stock and domestic can be accessed from rivers, streams, wells and water holes.
Neither of the above entitles for money to be paid, unless it is to cover for storage, channelling and pipes to deliver the water.
There should be some charges to cover for this.
If the water authorities want to charge for water taken from dams, lagoons, billabongs and water holes located on private land in the belief that the authorities own the water, as they claim, then they should be paying rent at commercial rates to the landholder for storage, or removing the water if the landholder does not want this on his or her property if they have no use for it.
Furthermore, if the water authorities want us, the citizens, to believe they own the water, then they should be responsible for any damage caused by their uncontrolled water.
I would like to discuss compensation from whoever owns the water for the serious damage to my home from uncontrolled flash flooding, on or about February 23, 2007.
Others should be asking questions for the damage done by uncontrolled flooding from the Macalister River in June 2007.
This plan is targeting private land while the government ignores its own land management problems.
Most private land is in low rainfall areas that contribute marginally to water supplies.
It is totally unacceptable to put more restrictions on landholders to fence off riparian zones and land for wildlife when government land management is almost non-existent, destroying water supplies and the environment.
Fencing riparian zones is unlikely to protect wildlife on private landholdings in many locations from the repeated wildfires coming in from the dangerous and totally irresponsible land management of Crown and Public land.
There is a growing belief from people living in the Upper Macalister that the viability of Lake Glenmaggie is likely to fail in our lifetime. The implications of further trashing of the waterways from future very hot fires is likely to be far reaching.
This is what any honest government should be addressing — but they are not.
Submitted by - L. Ralph Barraclough, Licola