Oct 13, 2006

Leadership needed on water crisis, not denial and blame-shifting

Leadership needed on water crisis, not denial and blame-shifting

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

13 October 2006

The Howard Government must move on from its denial and blame-shifting over the water crisis and climate change.

Record drought, record high temperatures, record low rainfall and an early start to the bushfire season are a massive wake up call for John Howard.

Australia’s water crisis is directly linked to climate change.

Climate change means the 10 hottest years occurred in the last 14. 2005 was the hottest year on record and the Murray River is at its lowest level for over 100 years. The six months ending August 2006 were the driest in 100 years, significantly increasing bushfire risk.

Climate change has already made Australia’s weather more extreme and reduced rainfall and water supplies to cities and agriculture, posing a serious threat to our economy and environment.

We have little evidence the Government is willing to, or capable of responding.

Not a single drop of water has been returned to the Murray River as a result of the 2003 Living Murray First Step Decision. This is an abject failure of policy.

There is little practical support for improved water recycling and water supply in our towns and cities – an abject failure of policy.

The Howard Government has failed to support practical projects such as the $155m water recycling project in western Sydney, which would recycle 27 billion litres of wastewater.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Water has backed away from supporting the purchase of water for environmental flows – another abject failure.

Australia needs leadership on water policy and climate change, not the hands off approach and denial of the Howard Government.

The Prime Minister and his colleagues stand idly by while the cracks in the parched earth widen under their watch.