Morrison's shock and AWE

HOGSBACK reckons PM Scott Morrison may have unwittingly created a “Frankenstein’s monster” department by merging Agriculture, Water and the Environment. This monster may even come back to haunt him at the next elections.
Morrison's shock and AWE Morrison's shock and AWE Morrison's shock and AWE Morrison's shock and AWE Morrison's shock and AWE

The department will consolidate the Department of Agriculture and the environment functions from the current Department of the Environment and Energy.

Everyone knows the National Party might be the junior party in the coalition but when it comes to matters of the bush it is the king pin. It always makes sure it looks after its rural support base.

Mining and resources companies have learnt the hard way that they are way down the National Party pecking order.

The recent battle in the bush between NSW horse breeders and coal mining companies is a prime example of how agriculture and other traditional rural pursuits will always trump mining - even it means the loss of jobs in rural Australia.

So, while Sco-Mo may have thought he could save some money by getting rid of a few department heads and creating the AWE department, he could have created an almighty headache for himself.

Competition is increasingly heating up between drought-stricken farmers and coal miners for water. Farmers are complaining that coal miners are draining valuable aquifers and outbidding them for water.

This inherent conflict could render the AWE department almost dysfunctional.

Having one department that is meant to advise a minister on all three competing land uses is nearly impossible. The most likely outcome is the department will revert to agriculture protection as its default setting.    

The last election proved central and northern Queensland was pro-coal and the voters there did not like environmentalist interlopers from down south such as former Greens leader Bob Brown driving up to towns in the Bowen and Galilee Basins telling them the Adani Carmichael coal mine should not go ahead.   

It was easy for Queensland voters to elect the coalition, because they were seen as being protectors of the state's major industry - coal mining.

However, things could go really pear shaped for the government if the AWE department keeps pushing agriculture's rights to water at the expense of coal mining developments.

The LNP would have to go along with this and abandon its major supporters in the last election to keep the farmers' lobby happy.  

Hogback reckons this could end up being an AWE-inspired nightmare for Morrison.