OPINION: Dirranbandi is situated along the upper reaches of the Darling River network, in the Condamine-Balonne region. The home of Cubbie Station. The locals hate the environment so much they spend all their spare time damming the river, just so the trees don’t get a drop. Or so any greenie would say.
They understand that if you tell someone something over and over again, one day they’ll start to believe it. It’s an old concept, and a basic one, but it’s effective. Add a simple brand name to the mix, and you have the perfect recipe for a Greenie campaign. Cue Cubbie Station.
As the debate about water usage and fish kills raged online, mostly from behind the keyboard of the ill-informed in the inner cities, I decided to drive 600km west to learn firsthand.
In a good year the Dirranbandi district can plant the equivalent of 35,000 Suncorp Stadium fields worth of cotton. This year, there are less than 300. That’s not even 1 per cent. The last time they had all their ground planted was back in 2013. First they were dealt the blow of the water buybacks, now they are reeling from a severe drought that has been raging for several years. Drought effects people too, not just fish.
What is troubling, is the vitriolic debate around water use across Australia is being led by scare-mongering greenies who want to bring down the very people who work from dawn to dusk, keeping this nation fed and clothed.
Not only are the farmers struggling, so too are all the businesses in town. Peter McCosker owns Dirranbandi Ag Spares. He has almost a million dollars’ worth of stock sitting on shelves and it won’t move until it rains. He says the Darling River water buybacks have reduced his annual turnover by 40pc.
Mark and Julie Anderson from The Motor Inn say they have been running at less than 25pc occupancy for the last three and half years. The pub and the bar in town are both being subsidised by the hardworking people who own them, from a lifetime’s worth of savings, only for the sake of community spirit, and to keep their staff employed.
Farmer’s like Frank Deshon who live downstream of Cubbie Station, have invested millions of dollars in innovation and technology to improve efficiencies, and reduce evaporation on their water storage units.
Dirranbandi is not a town of environmental vandals. It’s a town running off sheer resilience and perseverance. If you truly believe that Cubbie and all the other irrigators in the district are holding back all the water from downstream users, then I encourage you to make the trip out there to see for your own eyes. Even better, why not spend some money in town. Hell, the town will welcome it.
Australia is the cleanest, greenest and most sustainable producer of food and fibre in the world. Despite the many challenges, our farmers continue to feed this country and beyond through export markets. What is troubling, is the vitriolic debate around water use across Australia is being led by scare-mongering greenies who want to bring down the very people who work from dawn to dusk, keeping this nation fed and clothed.
Whether it’s cotton, corn, avocados or almonds, Australian agriculture relies on water supply. There are rogues in every industry, and they need the book thrown at them, rightfully so.
We need to start having serious conversations, based off fact, not false and misleading information. Farmers live off the land. They are the front-line conservationists. The true environmentalists.
- Bryson Head is the National Campaign Manager for the Green Shirts Movement.