In the past there have been a number of politicians who have expressed concern regarding the control of water and the (so they claimed) plan to make our water resources a "tradable commodity".
Former Senator Len Harris was the most recent coming to mind, yet few paid much regard at the time- more is the pity.
Last night, I attended a rather robust meeting in a regional town here in South Australia held by a group representing the interests of primary producers and landowners called "FLAGSA". The purpose of the meeting was for someone from the South Australian government (in this case represented by the "Water Minister" and former Agricultural Minister Mr. Paul Caica) and a number of Natural Resource Management officials to alleviate any fears held by primary producers of the proposal to tax rainwater tanks, dams and bores.
To set the scene, our former Agricultural MInister fronted a town hall full of irate landowners and attempted to placate them with the reassuring whine that "Now, I'm not a farmer, I'm just a boy from Henley Beach" followed by the steadfast declaration that under the proposal, stock watering and domestic use will not be taxed but the proposal is there to ensure future supplies for future generations of farmers.....
Unfortunately for both the Minister and those of us attending the packed hall, the Minister was unable to give a conclusive definition to simple questions such as :a) what defines stock? b) what is the government's definition of a commercial enterprise? and finally, can you give an iron clad promise that the proposal will not be extended to other users in future?
To her credit, the state Opposition leader Isobel Redmond gave a hearty and rousing speech about how her party will fight the proposal all the way to the next election. Pretty stirring stuff really and in general, I have a reasonable amount of time for Issie.
Unfortunately, someone had to ask the question "Will the Liberals repeal this legislation upon winning government?", only to be met with a fluffy response about how unfair it would be for those producers who had invested large sums of money to comply with the present Labor government's proposal....
No promise of compensation, partial or full, tax deductions or repeal of this water legislation. Just a promise to fight it until it is implemented.
Pretty disappointing really, but considering the promises we have heard from a number of Coalition MPs (and I'm referring to South Australian MPs here) to defend the interests of various primary industry sectors-the plight of apple growers and the WTO decision being the most recent, one should not be surprised if the end result is the same.