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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

[General] Water, water, everywhere

First off, Che has written a nice summary of the panel discussion we were a part of recently. Go read it when you leave here.

And now, Cletus from Canterbury:

This has gone too far! The Gub’na’ment is takin’ mah water! Ah’ve been dairy farmin’ down here in Canterb’ry fer, well, at least half a generation!

And ah had t’ work hard at it too! We h’d t’ convert th’ land inta this. Afore’n it were brown grass only good fer sheep! Look it ‘er now, green as far as the eye can see. Con-sarn-it!

Th’ Gub’na’ment cain’t do this! This is our right!

Thanks Cletus, for that lovely tirade. We should probably clarify for our readers as to what’s going on. The Government (capital G) is looking to regulate water usage especially in areas where water is in high demand and short supply. This means Canterbury.

Recently (quite recently) a number of resourceful farmers started converting their sheep farms to highly lucrative dairy farms. They did so by pumping water out of local rivers and lakes to spray over their farms, creating the lush green fields that make the Waikato a very good area for dairy farming.

The area of land being irrigated in New Zealand has doubled every decade since the 1960s and irrigation takes up 77 percent of all allocated water. That is quite a lot of water to spray onto the ground.

The National Business Review said this (quite unsurprisingly):

"Water is the lifeblood of farm operations. Farmers already have strong incentives to use this critical resource efficiently and cleanly. We would oppose any new policies on water that would negatively impact the productivity and viability of the 80,000 farming businesses that underpin this country's wealth and well-being…,"

I’m not quite sure what those “strong incentives” are. If they are “land preservation” you can just go fuck off ignore this, farmers don’t ever seem to care what happens to the land. They happily use pesticides, deforest land, create greenhouse gasses (yeah that is poetic justice) and release un-tested rabbit diseases.

For some reason, every time a farmer is on TV he is suddenly a “man of the earth”. He is one with the land and knows all about it. I call “Bullshit”.

Interestingly TV3 news interviewed a Canterbury farmer last night. He turned on his massive irrigation system that started to pump 1000’s of litres of water onto the ground. He then turned to the camera and said, with a straight face, how he had spent lots of money on the system and that the water was his “right”.

Would he have converted his farm to dairy and spent all that money on his irrigation system if he knew that the water would be restricted? And since when has water been a right in Canterbury, a place that is known for severe droughts? It’s not a right, it’s a privilege.

Speaking of which, expect more severe droughts more often. How ironic.

Rodney hide said (and Nick Smith agreed): "Government wants to centralise control over fresh water, putting privately owned, secure, tradable water rights out of the question."

I believe that is a good thing. I’m kind of tired of having other people own things. For goodness sake companies can own parts of the goddamn human genome!

The funny thing about this issue is its farmers versus fishermen and hunters. Fish and Game New Zealand are doing quite well for the environment recently considering their hatred of Didymo. They kill pigs, deer rabbits and possums and are for water and stream conservation. What a top bunch of blokes. And real “men of the earth” too.

This is separate issue but: who is closer to being a “man of the earth”?

  1. A farmer
  2. A hunter/fisherman
  3. An eco-protester

Finally a bit of sport.

The Super 14 could go to Monday and Thursday night games. This will mean that Sky TV (who basically owns the tournament) can broadcast more live games.

Monday Night Football!!!

Now normally I hate the fact that Sky TV holds the SANZAR rugby nations by the balls and that every time SANZAR want to do anything they have to come crawling to Sky and beg for its sanction. But this is OK. More viewers mean more money and more interest generated in the sport, which is good for the future.

The problem with Monday and Thursday games is that any team travelling from South Africa to Australia and New Zealand is travelling the wrong direction (time zone-wise). So the schedule will have to be strictly calculated.

For example teams that are travelling from the republic (be they starting a tour or coming back from one) could maybe have a Monday night game to give them an extra day to recover. It would also have an impact on where the byes could be.

It will be interesting to see if people will change their viewing habits. Monday is not a big pub night.

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