THE Ord River scheme is a great example of why the Australian Government’s National Food Plan green paper is wrong to dismiss the opportunity to create a food bowl in northern Australia.
Demand for Australian produce is rising. The world’s population is growing and consumption patterns in Asia are evolving. To fill their shortfall in domestic agricultural production, overseas markets are looking to Australia for food.
Despite northern Australia’s close proximity to this region of growth, the Government’s green paper released earlier this month has said large-scale expansion of irrigated agriculture appears not to be sustainable.
This view is based on the assumption of no new dams, as set out in the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce report of 2009.
There are areas of northern Australia that receive almost double the annual rainfall of the Murray-Darling basin.
If Australia’s agricultural sector is to make the most of these exciting opportunities, we need to overcome this ridiculous aversion to building new dams.
We are faced with a great opportunity for economic growth. Without vision and political action, these will be missed.