Gippsland Drought, Politics and Adani

Much of Gippsland remains in a ‘green drought’. This has been highlighted recently in the Gippsland Times especially in relation to the Giffard area in south Gippsland. Local MP Danny O’Brien of the National Party, with support from the local Victorian Farmers Federation branch, has been calling for the Premier Daniel Andrews to visit the drought affected areas. But the Premier will be welcome only “if a suitable guarantee of assistance was forthcoming.” The current drought has been with us for some time and I have written about it on several occasions. See here and here.

Having lived most of my life in pastoral country in the foothills of the Victorian Alps I sympathise with farmers struggling with drought conditions many of whom, especially at these times, are asset rich and income poor. Their choices are limited to sending the stock away on agistment or reducing the herd size to a minimum and feeding out. Due to drought conditions prevailing in western NSW and other parts of Victoria as well as Gippsland fodder is scarce and expensive. I am aware of many farmers currently feeding out and, by hearsay, one who has been feeding out for the best part of 2 years at a cost of $1000 per week.

To complicate the politics the Adani coal project has just been given the go ahead by the Queensland government. Coincidentally I was given a small window of opportunity to comment on this on ABC Gippsland radio. I pointed out the disconnect between what governments and politicians were doing and the basic physics of the greenhouse effect and stated that the current drought in Gippsland was certainly made worse by global warming. It is unfortunate that such opportunities mean only brief messages can be conveyed.

Which brings us back to the question of drought and the warming. The science has been in on climate change and its effect on droughts for some time so politicians and farmers representatives ignore it at their peril. It is not possible to select the facts (or science) that you like or agree with, and ignore or even oppose those which you don’t. To ask someone whether they ‘believe’ in climate change is the wrong question for personal beliefs are irrelevant to what actually is.

So when our local National MPs finally talk about climate change and the need for urgent action, when they oppose the most ridiculous statements of their colleagues in Queensland on coal and the Adani mine, when they support a ‘just transition’ from coal to renewables in the Latrobe Valley, when they spruik hard and continuously the advantages of the various wind generator and energy storage projects, then they will have more credibility.