Saturday, August 25, 2007

Australia: The great desert dream

Loooong, but interesting, from Climate Ark, via Sydney Morning News: …"Australia's greatest 21st century adventure" [is] to transform the Tropical North; to bring the southern farmers to the water, rather than the northern water to the farmers; to turn the Top End into a major exporter of food and, yes, water to Asia.

…This month the Government's Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce - with initial funding of $20 million and an all-star team including Lachlan Murdoch and Noel Pearson - begins harnessing expertise, processing public submissions, criss-crossing the country discussing what chairman Bill Heffernan calls a "grand vision" for the north.

"This is not about the next election, about the next 10 years. This is about Australia in 80, 100 years time. This is about the nation's long-term survival," says Heffernan, the outspoken Liberal senator who promises to prosecute the cause not with bulldozers but scientific brainpower.

…"Two-thirds of Australia's freshwater flows down the northern rivers, compared with less than 5 per cent for our sadly-depleted southern waterways. Because of the way the country was settled they have never been properly tapped."

…So far, so encouraging. But despite two centuries of good intentions and great plans, northern Australia is littered with the wreckage of abandoned dreams, its history punctuated with plans that proved to be more grandiose than grand….

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