IF ANYONE thought the health of the Murray Darling Basin was above politics, then last week put that to rest.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Water Minister Tony Burke, at Goolwa should in the Murray mouth region of South Australia, said they would return 3200GL to the river.
They did not actually say the Basin Plan would be revised to include 3200GL, a fact picked up on by Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh.
The announcement was a master stroke by Mr Burke.
Mr Burke could sidestep a High Court action by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill by talking up the 3200GL and still keep the other Basin ministers happy, by taking the 2750GL plan to Parliament.
Mr Weatherill had painted himself into a corner declaring SA would launch a High Court challenge if 3200GL was not included in the plan.
However, there was enough references to 3200GL for the Murray, enough pretty picture opportunities and enough smoke and mirrors for Mr Weatherill to declare a win despite not getting what he had demanded.
The collateral damage of the political manoeuvring was to alarm Basin communities and irrigators, who suddenly felt the goalposts had shifted.
Mr Burke has just a few weeks left before the plan goes to Parliament.
And in those few weeks, as one irrigator said, he had better get out and explain his masterplan.
It is disappointing federal Labor has sought to get political mileage from the Basin negotiations and it's important to recognise this is what has happened.
ONE thing is certain about the sale of Elders - it will be quick but not necessarily painless.
NAB, Commonwealth, ANZ, Rural Bank and Rabobank refused to grant the Elders board its wish of waiting until next year.
The banks are said to be disappointed Elders refused to take Ruralco's recent merger approach more seriously.
Either Elders acted quickly or the banks would have forced their hand, especially with big loans maturing at the end of the year.
This way Elders controls the sale rather than a bank-appointed receiver.
Selling its best and biggest component means there will be scarcely anything left of the once mighty Elders post-sale.
The best and only asset left may well be its brand.
And as a disappointed Ruralco said this week on learning of the Elders' firesale, now the merger deal is likely to be trumped by a richer international, it would be the last big Aussie standing.
Elders' staff, and clients, might jump ship.