THE Four Corners Cash Splash”episode on ABC television (July 8) failed to live up to the hype, and was a dismal follow up to its stellar predecessor Pumped of 2017, which managed to cut through the confusion of the water space enough to expose government sanctioned rorting and funny business in the northern basin.
Cash Splash in contrast was a mish-mash of talking heads, unproven assertions, and misrepresentations as to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) and the operation of water markets in the southern connected basin.
The investigative team was clearly out of its depth, never coming to grips with the critical distinctions between the related but distinct concepts of the plan and water reform, and failing to comprehend the operation of the water market and key water related concepts, notably the cap on extractions.
The usual tropes got a workout, with people fulminating against the operation of the water market (although clearly big time beneficiaries of that market), and corporate expansion. The (unconsulted) Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and the MDBP got a kicking too, but zero substantive evidence was forthcoming to back up the torrent of assertions.
It’s old news, but one takeaway from Cash Splash is that the farm lobby had to be bought off with expensive taxpayer subsidies in order to have a plan in the first place.
And there was gold at the end of the show, with ex-Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder Dennis Papps pointing out the reality that, at the insistence of the farm lobby, Victoria and NSW, with the connivance of South Australia and the Commonwealth, are working to rob taxpayers and unwind the agreed plan.