Water is no longer just water

By Geoff Adams

For those who watched last week’s Q&A on ABC TV, there can be no doubt that water is no longer just water.

It’s not only for human use, or for caring for our environment, not for producing food and fibre — it has become a commodity used to create profit through trading.

This is not news to many of you.

This began back in 2007 when the then Water Minister Malcolm Turnbull came to Shepparton to discuss changes to water.

He made it quite clear that water was going to go to the highest bidder, a ‘free market’ was the only way to go — he had no concern for the socio-economic impact on communities or the environment.

He had his eyes firmly on the prize.

Since then the constraints that ensured careful management of our water system have been eroded and now we have an internationally significant red gum forest being killed, a dairy industry on its knees, businesses closing and families falling apart.

It doesn’t seem that the ‘free market’ is all that free after all. The costs to our communities are in fact huge.

How much damage must the Barmah Forest and communities sustain before the government accepts that they have allowed too much water to be traded?

It was extremely disheartening and demoralising to watch Mr Littleproud, Mr Fitzgibbon and Ms Simson dodge and weave around every issue.

They chose to ignore pertinent question about water being removed from our system with no explanation or justification, the wastage that occurs in the transference downstream to an unsustainable almond industry (at 20 Ml per hectare at full production) and the role of investment companies in the water market.

But what they cannot ignore is the growing number of people standing up and saying enough is enough. This is the only way that everyday people can effect change.

But one voice alone is not enough. We need you too.

So please, please contact the offices of Suzanna Sheed (phone 5831 6944) and Damian Drum (phone 5821 5371) so that the government can be in no doubt that we need this water issue addressed now.

Write to this paper and/or any other paper, keep the conversation going.

It may be a little out of your comfort zone, but better that than out of your livelihood.

Anita Seiter

North Victorian Irrigation Communities