Loony Green/Left government in the Australian State of Victoria

In Victoria, rivers are no longer water SOURCES. They are now water USERS! Comment below by Andrew Bolt

John Thwaites says we use too much water and too many plastic bags. But our state Environment Minister uses too little of something far rarer than water and even better than bags. Try brains. Has any government put out anything more irrational and half-baked than did green-priest Thwaites last week with his "Sustainability Action Statement"?

Here is proof that the true battle isn't between those who want to save the environment or use it. It's between those who have given in to superstition and those who still defend reason. Last week's statement promised, without a blush of shame, to make your power bills rise, your water dry up and your shopping bills rise, yet -- incredibly -- the media clapped like mad.

Indeed, this was mad. Take Thwaites' promise to force retailers to charge you 10 cents for each of those wicked plastic bags you use to carry home the shopping. Says Thwaites's statement, 10 million of them each year become litter "that endanger the health of marine wildlife", clog drains or "detract from the beauty of our environment". So from 2012 the poor will be fined for using these bags of evil, forcing them to use something else -- a pram, perhaps? -- to get their tins and packages home. (The rich won't feel any hurt at a lousy 10 cents a bag, which is why the rich-pleasing media barely cares about all this.)

But does the 10 cents actually make sense? Not if you believe the Productivity Commission. A draft commission report in May found that plastic bags make up only 0.2 per cent of land fill, where they probably do some good, reducing toxic leakage and keeping the fill stable. And there was little proof the bags caused harm to wildlife, which tends not to shop with them anyway. They might make a mess here and there, but there were probably cheaper ways of dealing with that than a ban, said the commission's boss, Philip Weikhardt. Besides, they are just so useful, which is why we don't carry our groceries home in, say, an Esky or a suitcase. More than 60 per cent are reused lining bins or for other household jobs such as keeping food fresh. Heavens, that might save lives. In fact, as the Environment Protection and Heritage Council concluded: "Plastic bags are popular with consumers and retailers as they are a functional, lightweight, strong, cheap, and hygienic way to transport food and other products."

So what was the Government's excuse for slapping on the 10 cent fine when it makes so little sense? I think I've found the answer on page 47 of Thwaites' statement: "(P)lastic bags are a symbol of our inefficient use of resources . . ." Note that the bags themselves aren't inefficient. They are bad because they are symbols of other things that are. And so must go. Mad. Next!

Next is Thwaites' promise to force energy retailers to buy 10 per cent of their power from green-approved solar and wind generators. Which sounds so earth-cuddling. Except for this: these huge mills and reflectors of "green" power wreck our views more than plastic bags ever could. And they'll crank out power that costs us big without cutting global warming by any amount anyone can measure. Figure it out for yourself: Most climate modellers -- such as Tom Wigley, senior scientist at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research -- say even if all the Kyoto-approved cuts to the world's greenhouse gases were put in place right now, they would delay the rise in temperature predicted for 2100 by a measly six years. The heat expected in 2100 will come anyway in 2106.

Now imagine what small contribution wind-power will make in producing that tiny effect. Break that down even more: what share of that contribution is Victoria's? See? These wind farms we're building will make all the difference of a bat-squeak in a grand-final roar. But measure the cost, and not just in ruined views. The Government says the extra green power will make your power bills go up by $1 a month. In fact, the Opposition is correct in warning the true cost is more likely to become more than five times that -- and we'll still need coal-fired plants as backup for the days the wind doesn't blow. Or blows too hard. Again, this is just an expensive symbolic gesture to please green gods. We must pay so Thwaites can pray.

Next! Yes, there is a next because the one thing we're not running out of under this Government is irrationality. Next is Thwaites's manic determination to stop any future government from building a dam for Melbourne on the river once set aside for that very purpose. Not content with already having turned the dam reservation at Gippsland's Mitchell River into a national park, Thwaites now says the Government will pass a law to declare the Mitchell a heritage river that can never be dammed. Don't think he doesn't know he's locking up good drinking water that one day we will badly need. His statement admits the "Mitchell River (is) the largest free-flowing river without a dam in southeastern Australia". So, you'll think there must be a good reason to deny us this water when our dams are already less than half full, with dry Melbourne expecting a million more thirsty residents within 25 years.

And I've found them. Well, not good reasons, but the only ones Thwaites's allies at Melbourne Water can dream up to justify their minister's dam ban. Says Melbourne Water: "New dams do not create any new water." How about that for a reason not to build one? Might as well not have built any of Melbourne's dams, then. None of them create water either, do they? On struggles Melbourne Water: "If a new dam were built for Melbourne, it would need to be filled with water that is currently used by rural and regional communities and the environment."

Pardon me? How is water "used ... by the environment"? Who can tell if a river really is "using" water, or just wasting it? And if a river really is "using" water, who says I can't take it anyway? But isn't all river water "used by the environment"? Um, well, yes, actually. So this nonsense statement tells us we should empty every dam we've ever built and never drink another drop of water that could be "used" by the rivers instead.

Indeed, this Government is already pulling the plug on the reservoir at Lake Mokoan, and promising to send more water from our dams down half a dozen of our rivers to flow to waste in the sea. This, during our worst recorded drought. You'll find all this hard to believe, so go check the October issue of Melbourne Water's A Source magazine. There you'll find Thwaites's plan for the giant Thomson Dam, which holds 60 per cent of Melbourne's water but is less than 40 per cent full. Does Thwaites plan to plug any leaks? Cut back on releases into the river? Hell, no. His big idea is to empty the reservoir of an extra 8 billion litres of drinking water each year to baptise more fish and bless more plants. So, while sacred fish soak we mere humans must heed Preacher Thwaites' call last week to "save the planet" by taking "four-minute power showers instead of the average seven minutes".

I cannot be the only person to think all this is so irrational as to border on the mad. Less water, dearer power and higher grocery bills -- just to genuflect to the earth gods that seem to have moved into Spring St. One day, of course, the crunch will come. We'll have a real water crisis. We won't have enough power to drive export industries such as our aluminium smelters. We'll price ourselves out of competition with our neighbours. Pray then to the nature gods of John Thwaites, asking them to return our pious favours. Learn then how deaf they are. And how pitiless.


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