Mar 22, 2006

Mixed signals from Howard on water recycling

Mixed signals from Howard on water recycling


22 March 2006

Today is World Water Day. Across Australia, towns and cities confront severe water shortages. Water is our most precious resource and its supply is a crucial national issue.

The Howard Government’s $2 billion 2003 National Water Initiative is bogged in a political and bureaucratic swamp.

The urban water reform section of the National Water Initiative appears to have been sidelined by the Howard Government for the last three years.

On 30 January 2006, John Howard said he supported water recycling and that water “is a national issue as well as a local issue”.

However, since early December 2005, John Howard has had on his desk a strong recommendation from the National Water Commission to support a water recycling project in Toowoomba. It seems that Minister Ian Macfarlane (the local MP) is now actively undermining the Toowoomba water recycling project, creating a stalemate for the Government.

Once again, John Howard is ignoring the independent experts and following his narrow political interest, not the national interest.

John Howard’s Parliamentary Secretary, Malcolm Turnbull, praises water recycling, but when it comes to the crunch he goes to water. He needs to back his talk with real policy commitments.

On World Water Day, we should all be reflecting on the dramatic impact climate change will have on our water supply. According to the CSIRO, by 2030 water supply for both Sydney and Melbourne will drop by 25% per year because of the reduced rainfall and higher evaporation from climate change. In the meantime their populations are expected to rise by 30%.

The Howard Government has failed to respond to climate change and the water crisis facing many towns and cities in Australia.

Australia needs all levels of Government working together to secure Australia’s future water supply. Our cities and towns need more support from the Howard Government, not buck passing.