If someone in government had the courage to ‘turn on the tap’ it could have a significant positive impact for our nation.
As well as growing food at a time when international reports are expressing concerns about a growing food crisis, it would reinvigorate rural communities and provide an economic boost when it is most needed.
But instead of showing the courage required, the Federal Government refuses to work with communities to resolve water management issues, according to the Speak Up Campaign.
“A Bloomberg report tells us global food prices reached a six-year high in December and are likely to keep rising this year, which it says is ‘adding to the pressure on household budgets while hunger surges around the world’,” Speak Up chair Lachlan Marshall said.
“The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization is concerned the price spike threatens to push up broader inflation, making it harder for central banks to provide the financial stimulus needed to shore up economies.
“We are facing a period of what is being called ‘food-flation’, where a reduced supply of food, amid increased demand, puts pressure on prices. In our regions of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria we are in a unique position where we can help ease this pressure by growing more food.
“But to do it we need water, and unfortunately we presently have a Federal Government that will not ‘turn on the tap’ for food production, which could provide a multi-billion dollar boost for our nation and the world.
“We can’t grow the food if we don’t have water,” Mr Marshall said.
He said as we recover from the pandemic it will be imperative that Australia takes every possible opportunity to increase economic activity so we can start repaying the massive debt that has built up.
“Increasing food production in our region can have huge economic benefits and should not be ignored. It can be achieved quickly with some policy changes that reallocate wasted water, and put it to productive use. It could also help improve the environment, thus providing a double benefit. It’s that simple.
“At present we’re pouring water out to sea – the equivalent of 25 per cent of Sydney Harbour in December alone – while allowing the equivalent of 1.6 Sydney Harbours to evaporate each year off the Lower Lakes in South Australia.
“At the same time, governments are forcing our farmers to compete against international investors, investment banks, superannuation companies and expert traders for a slice of the ever-reducing pool of water.
“If these issues are addressed, instead of being ignored which is the current Federal Government approach, we can increase production in a COVID-safe way, help local and national economies, and provide food for domestic and international consumption at a time when food security and supply is starting to cause global concern,” Mr Marshall said.