Pauline Hanson (One Nation) and Bob Katter never had an original thought between them. Pauline Hanson is a born thief of ideas. She has come up with this brainwave to implement the Bradfield Scheme as a means of dealing with the drought conditions. That has only been around since about 1938. A similar bar far more workable idea was proposed to Hanson back in 2016 by this webmaster and Peter Rogers. Peter got sacked over this and a few other minor issues by Pauline with no doubt some prompting by James Ashby. Peter could have led One Nation to a great victory in Queensland at the time such was his following and support. In true Pauline Hanson style, winning an election is last on her list of priorities, Pauline being a control freak at the expense of electoral victory is far more important. She has done this numerous times, sacking good people wholesale.
The Bradfield scheme is rather simple but good in concept. Masses of water can be collected in North Queensland and sent down the rivers for use. Since 1938 not one Government has taken up with the idea or similar and look at the mess awe are in now. Pauline wants to appear to be the saviour and thinks she will get it implemented. Yes the Bradfield scheme has its critics – the very same critics who have no vision or a better idea.
Modern technology has well an truly overtaken the Bradfield scheme. Our idea is for dam storage with a capacity (total) of about the size of the Mediterranean be built. These get piped through huge underground pipe network each about twenty ft in diameter. These pipes have hydro generators every so often.
The spin offs from this are enormous – very cheap green reliable renewable hydro power. More than enough to sell to industry at very cheap rates and attract industry to Queensland. Lots of employment. The maths is simple. If it takes “X” amount of energy to produce 100 Megawatts of power through conventional means, once used that energy is gone. The same water energy “X” amount can turn turbines several times all for free, and we still have water left at the end to use. The principle is that water is to be used to keep the turbines spinning.
To make matters worse Pauline Hanson still supports coal fired power stations, get real woman.
The Bradfield Scheme is supposed to alleviate drought. So why has it been rejected so many times?
John Bradfield is hardly a household name, but references to the Bradfield Scheme get bandied about from time to time, 80 years after the engineer devised his ambitious plan to divert flood waters from Australia’s north to its arid centre.
One Nation senator Pauline Hanson mentioned the scheme while withholding support for the re-elected Coalition Government’s promised $158 billion income tax cuts.
She told Channel Nine she was not ready to vote for the bill ahead of “more important issues”.
“I want to see a coal-fired power station built in Australia to reduce electricity prices and I want to see the Bradfield Scheme to ensure water security in Australia,” she said.
This is not the first time that Bradfield’s complex hydraulic plan has been drawn into the political debate; that the scheme could ensure water security is a myth that refuses to die.
Reused and recycled
In a media release ahead of the election, Senator Hanson promised: “We will build the hybrid Bradfield Water Scheme and drought-proof much of the country, while solving the issue of water for the Murray Darling.”
In February, the NSW Nationals, including Deputy Premier John Barilaro, promised to put “$25 million on the table” to investigate building a modern version of the scheme, calling on other states and the Commonwealth to contribute.
Back in 2007, Queensland Labor premier Peter Beattie said he wanted to resurrect a modern version of the scheme; in 2008, crossbench Queensland MP Bob Katter also championed it.
Fact Check took a closer look at the Bradfield Scheme during this year’s election campaign following repeated comments by former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.
We found Mr Joyce’s proposition that the scheme would ease the effects of droughts and floods in northern Australia to be pie in the skySpace to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Statutory authorities, government organisations and independent researchers have all debunked the original scheme on scientific, engineering and financial grounds — while later versions have also been dismissed by federal and state governments.
Experts pointed out to Fact Check that ideas such as Bradfield’s ambitious — but flawed — scheme tended to resurface in times of water crisis, and while alternative models for diverting water inland could be devised, the costs were prohibitive without guaranteed agricultural benefits.
In considering Senator Hanson’s support for the Bradfield Scheme as a means of “ensuring water security”, Fact Check reprised the comments of experts.
What is the Bradfield Scheme?
In 1938, John Job Crew (JJC) Bradfield, who was the principal designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, proposed an ambitious water infrastructure plan that became known as the Bradfield Scheme.
Using a hydraulic system of dams, pumps and pipes, Bradfield proposed diverting flood waters from the coastal rivers of northern Queensland inland and across the Great Dividing Range.
His theory was that by increasing irrigation and sustaining bodies of water in central Australia would ameliorate the climate, leading to increased rainfall, an expansion of fertile farmlands, greater agricultural production and food exports, and the creation of additional jobs.
Bradfield’s original plan — and his revised and expanded version of 1941 — were rejected by governments of the time. He continued to push his proposal until his death in 1943.
Decades of rejection
Fact Check’s original investigation cited the findings of statutory authorities, government departments and independent researchers who looked at aspects of the scheme and reported “miscalculations”, “tremendous costs” and scientific inaccuracies.
Despite this overwhelming rejection, the Bradfield Scheme is recycled every few years in the form of feasibility schemes, revisions and hybrids, only to be dismissed or rejected once more.
Albert Van Dijk, a professor at Australian National University, previously told Fact Check that scientists used the term “pipe dream” to describe such optimistic but outdated notions.
“Grandiose ideas like these have historically resurfaced every time that elections are held during a drought,” he noted.
“They have been thoroughly debunked as both uneconomical and hugely damaging. There’s really no point debating them again.”
ANU Emeritus Professor of History Tom Griffiths agreed that, historically, the “reviving” of the Bradfield Scheme coincided with droughts, floods and times of crisis in general.
Professor Van Dijk and University of NSW Professor Richard Kingsford both agreed that there was no easy fix for drought.
“We have to essentially be able to live with the droughts that come regularly to our continent,” Professor Kingsford said.
“The problem is they are getting stronger and more intense as a result of climate change.”
Rejuvenating Australia’s arid centre
Bradfield’s view was that by diverting water and maintaining permanent water surfaces in the continent’s centre (like a full Lake Eyre in northern South Australia), the climate would improve overall.
The theory was that rainfall would increase as a result, temperatures would fall and fertile farmland would replace the desert landscape.
“Far-reaching schemes are required to ameliorate the climate and rejuvenate inland Australia,” Bradfield wrote in his plan Watering Inland Australia.
“Australia eventually should easily accommodate 90 million people, 30 per square mile … A rejuvenated inland, creating employment and settling a population in comfortable circumstances would be one part in such a long-range policy.”
However, reviews of Bradfield’s scheme in 1945 and early this century have debunked this suggestion.
In 1945, a committee of four meteorologists established by the Queensland government under the direction of H N Warren, then Director of Meteorological Services, concluded that Bradfield’s expected increase in rainfall “could not be substantiated” and the potential climatic improvement was “overestimated”.
In 2004, another expert group produced similar findings after reviewing the scheme with the benefit of longer-term data and sophisticated climate models.
Dr Neville Nicholls, co-author of the paper and now an Emeritus Professor at Monash University, told Fact Check that “even if large evaporation could be avoided” there would not be substantial changes to the climate.
“We found no evidence that the scheme would help avoid droughts by increasing inland rainfall or decreasing temperature, except very close to the water body,” he said.
Couldn’t justify the cost
A major point of criticism regarding the Bradfield Scheme has been the estimated cost of implementing it.
Bradfield had put the cost of his revised scheme in 1941 at “up to £40 million”, which translates to approximately $3.2 billion in 2018 prices.
A 1947 critical review showed that the plan had overestimated the “water capability supply” — the amount of water available for diversion — by 250 per cent, while underestimating the cost.
At the same time, the final price for the irrigators was reportedly calculated at 25 to 30 times the cost of water supplied to Victorian and NSW farms via the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
Professor Kingsford told Fact Check that the main consideration was whether the resultant productivity gains would be enough to justify the cost of diverting the water — estimated to be in the billions of dollars.
“[It] wouldn’t deliver; wouldn’t repay the cost,” he said bluntly.
Dr Daniel Connell, a research fellow at the Australian National University, agreed that the scheme would only be possible with “massive government subsidies, which [would] far exceed the value of what would be produced”.
“It’s much cheaper to desalinate water, the cost of which now makes that option feasible for a wealthy city, but still far above what is needed to make agriculture financially viable,” he said.
Experts told Fact Check that alternative models and schemes could be easier to implement — and cheaper — than Bradfield’s, but the extent of any potential agricultural productivity was likely to be fiercely contested.
Professor Kingsford told Fact Check that beyond the recent devastating events in Queensland, floods in general had “a significant role to play in the ecosystem”.
“In the Murray-Darling we have large areas that are dying with not enough water because, essentially, we have taken the floods away,” he said.
“You take all that water away and you put it somewhere else, you [then] get a collapse of those ecosystems, which has happened in the Nile Delta; it’s happening in the Yangtze [in China] at the moment.”
Diverting flood waters from their natural paths could cause wide movement of invasive species, collapse marine and estuary ecosystems, and even cause economic damage to coastal communities, according to experts.
He also pointed out that the Snowy Mountains Scheme was like a mini-Bradfield in that it had diverted water successfully to irrigators, although at the same time “it has devastated the [Snowy] river”.