Four Corners - Sold Down the River
Drought boosts his price; rain depresses it. Not so long ago, the water was free for all to use. Welcome to the world of the water baron. Water traders are now the spearhead of a radical experiment that aims to rescue Australia's most vital river system, the Murray Darling, which underpins 40 per cent of national agriculture. Backers of the trade argue that the Murray Darling will die unless more water is put back into it, or less is taken out. The best way to achieve that, they say, is to put wasteful water users out of business - by driving up the price of water.
But tell that to the farmers, especially irrigators, who see control of their livelihoods being transferred to city-based or even foreign speculators. Why, they ask, should they pay more money for less water when for decades they had been encouraged to use as much water as they liked? Four Corners reporter Ticky Fullerton looks at the winners and losers in a market shake-out where water barons, farmers, governments and an entire river system battle for survival.
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