Barnaby Joyce appointed Special Envoy for Drought Assistance and Recovery

GIVEN A JOB TO DO: Barnaby Joyce was appointed Special Envoy for Drought Assistance and Recovery by the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
GIVEN A JOB TO DO: Barnaby Joyce was appointed Special Envoy for Drought Assistance and Recovery by the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

Special Envoy for Drought Assistance and Recovery:

The role: To act as an advocate and adviser to the government.

The incumbent: Barnaby Joyce.

The outcome: The blind leading the blind and there are none so blind as politicians who can’t see i.e. politicians lacking in cognitive skills, critical thinking skills and the ability to sort fact from fiction. 

Unwittingly, Barnaby Joyce is [literally] a star in his new role. His current advice and suggestions greatly assist the drought in escalating its devastating grip on the communities who rely on healthy river systems and water ways for their very existence and wellbeing. He just doesn’t get it!

The Joyce solutions:

• “It’s a natural disaster”- “we should just take available resources without seeking permission” [Irrespective of any legislation required to properly manage these resources].

• We need “new provisions to allow farmers to clear mulga trees to feed livestock”. [Ignorant of the need for legislation to effectively manage land clearing practices].

• Steal [”borrow”] water essential for the health and viability of a river system in the driest continent on earth [apart from Antarctica] and divert it for crop irrigation for very spurious reasons, more accurately identified by Sussan Ley MP as : “one of Australia’s top three export earners would be decimated” if they can’t get their forward contract export fodder crops to completion because of lack of water.[To hell with the needs of numerous other communities already decimated by this current drought].

• If there is current legislation standing in the way “well, change the legislation. That’s what we have a parliament for”. [No we don’t].

• “You’d work the sums back this way: you’d say how many stock do we have that have a requirement, how many acres of land do we have available to grow fodder --- and how much water do we need to do it”. [Unbelievable!]

This type of thinking is the very antithesis of suggestions put forward by credible, economists, scientists and well-informed people who actually do understand the implications of and the connectivity between drought, climate change and implications from human actions.

Compare with, for example, comments made by economist Saul Eslake:

“The long term future of drought assistance can’t be divorced from judgement that ultimately has got to be made about the sustainability of agriculture in certain parts of the country in the face of climate change.

“Just throwing cash at farmers in what are seen to be increasingly frequent droughts is ultimately not helping farmers as well as being a waste of taxpayer money.”

The limiting factor and starting point in consideration of an Eslake solution is the amount of real physical water that is likely to fall as rain in current and future climate scenarios and how it can most efficiently and effectively be shared.  A logical approach. A responsible approach economically, socially and environmentally. 

By contrast the Joyce solution’s starting point is: this is what we want, how can we engineer a situation to get the amount of water to achieve what we want, with an end point of “hope and pray for rain”. [The ‘we’ in this case being mostly large irrigation lobbyists with increasing export market contracts to meet and further expand].  An illogical approach. A politically expedient approach.

Ignoring such blatant political incompetence unchallenged is no longer a viable option.

Jan Kleeman

Donald Creek

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