That’s the title of my latest piece in The Guardian, responding to a Matt Canavan spray against critics of a recent CSIRO report canvassing options for expanded irrigation in Northern Australia. Interestingly, although Canavan comes across as a typical North Queensland developmentalist (for whom I would have some sympathy) he’s actually from the South-East corner, a UQ economics graduate and a former senior official of the Productivity Commission. Ten years ago, he’d have been debunking CSIRO in exactly the way I do in my report.
After my piece came out, there was a bit of a kerfuffle on Twitter over whether CSIRO had really proposed a dam on the Fitzroy. Their report didn’t do any new analysis of major dams (a point they stressed) but dusted off a couple of existing proposals, then did a more detailed analysis of a plan based on one or more smaller (25 GL or more) dams. None of them were economically sound, except when the magic of regional input-output multipliers was invoked.