Sunday, December 5, 2010

Making wise decisions

The $1.2bil Tugun desalination plant in Queensland is to be mothballed now, less than a year after opening. This is due to excessive rainfall. The same fate may befall Victoria's much more expensive desalination plant at Wonthaggi. The question we should be asking our politicians is whether they have made wise decisions. Many politicians have an inspiration (to put it kindly), and off they go, selling the idea and selling out the public. Sometimes they are are armed with survey results and statistics, which they rely on to vindicate themselves in the eventuality of failure. And the public seems to accept that. Not me. Politicians should be held accountable for making wise decisions. To do so, they have to consult the right people. Julia Gillard is not an IT expert. John Brumby is not an expert on the weather.

Back to the Tugun desal plant. Do we not have decades of data to tell us what the rainfall pattern is? Rainfall can very from year to year, but it is very hard to believe that a drought can suddenly happen that has not happened before in recorded history. Weather pattern is fairly consistent over thousands and thousands of years. It may vary slightly from year to year but it cannot change suddenly. Our water supply contingency plan should be based on year-to-year fluctuation. We should not interpret a cyclical drought as one that is about to change the landscape forever.

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