They say that out of chaos comes opportunity so it has been both refreshing and encouraging to see Prime Minister Morrison hit the ground running and talking up action on the drought.
However, what will be even more refreshing, encouraging and interesting is to see him maintain, drive and harvest that same interest and enthusiasm and walk the walk on dynamic and visionary, nation building drought mitigation and similar infrastructure projects.
A good start, by way of making a mark, burnishing his credentials and demonstrating his commitment would be to dust off the 1938 Bradfield plan whereby the Tully, Burdekin and Herbert rivers in North Queensland, fed by the annual monsoons are diverted west of the dividing range into the Thompson River and into the Murray Darling Basin to drought proof western Queensland and NSW. In a country with the technology of the time to create the Snowy scheme in the 1950’s and thought nothing of dreaming up the $50 billion NBN on the back of a serviette or beer coaster, the Bradfield scheme and the similar, NSW Beale scheme for diverting water from the Clarence River Basin in to the Murray Darling Basin, in 2018 should be a doddle.
The Beale scheme, which came about from an inquiry initiated by the Fraser government in 1983 but then cancelled by the Hawke government (obviously on the back of its environmental credentials and the hysteria around the Franklin River in Tasmania which was a major plank of the 1983 election) would divert two million megalitres (four Sydney Harbours) annually into the Murray Darling Basin.
As a bonus, it would also have the capacity to provide pump storage hydro to provide 3000 megawatts of power for peak electrical load for NSW and Qld.
By way of comparison the capacity of Liddell is 2000mw.
I started by suggesting that “out of chaos comes opportunity.” Well, the bookend to that is “never let a good crisis go to waste”, so perhaps those approving foreign investment in regional Australia should tie in and make approval conditional upon involvement in such nation building projects and developments. Projects for example, like the ADANI mine in the Galilee Basin in western Queensland.
At the very least it would test their commitment to Australia and in a hundred years time they will have left something left behind to show that they were here apart from a hole in the ground.