Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Watered-down plan wins Nats over

Watered-down plan wins Nats over: "THE Howard Government has settled a Nationals revolt against its $10 billion Murray-Darling Basin takeover by specifically ruling out the forced acquisition of farmers' water entitlements.

"The backdown received support from Queensland Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce, who had led a revolt against the takeover over fears irrigation communities would be robbed of water.

"Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday draft legislation expected to go before federal parliament this week would rule out compulsory acquisition of water rights."

I guess the water holders don't much like the idea of being forced to sell in a depressed market, any more than landholders would like being forced to sell in a land bust. Wait till the rain comes and get some more from the government.

Water trading, water rights and water entitlements are another example of what I call enclosurism, or the tax-free privatisation of natural resources, or 'kapital', ie the kapitalized (exchange) value of politically guaranteed unearned incomes. The problem has arisen because the giveaway of water has exceeded the amount of water their actually is. It's as if the government made land grants to squatters and selectors but then found out they had granted more land than existed.

In principle, water and other natural resources ought be the property of the whole population, and should be allocated on an annual basis at market rates, limited in quantity to what is environmentally safe and socially equitable (a certain minimum free allocation must be regarded as an inalienable human right for every person).

This would gain revenue for the public, guarantee necessary social and environmental flows, and ration commercially exploited water to its most efficient use.

The Government's proposals to 'buyback' non-existent water allocations amount to a huge $10b taxpayer grant to private persons for something they don't own and which doesn't even exist. These private parties are saying to the government, you gave us an allocation of water but because it didn't rain we didn't get any so you will give us $10b instead. Classic Kapitalism. A corporate/conservative government of course, which serves kapital not people (or the environment), hastens to comply and calls it 'reform'.

No comments: