Community efforts to achieve transparency in water ownership are continuing.
The Speak Up Campaign has launched an online petition to reinforce its previous efforts to have an effective NSW water register established.
It follows failed attempts in recent times, and frustration at the NSW Government’s inability to compromise and find a solution, for the benefit of farmers in the state.
Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar said the organisation’s original petition had attracted 11,000 signatures, which was an indication of how strongly people feel about getting an effective water register.
“It was disappointing that politicians were unable to come together and develop a register that will protect our farming interests. The government said the first Bill, proposed by Member for Murray Helen Dalton, would provide too much information that should be kept private. However, there was no doubt the Government’s alternative did not go far enough; it would have been ineffective. Unfortunately, attempts to get the Government to the table and work out a compromise have been unsuccessful.
“Now, they are allowing online petitions so we thought this presented another good opportunity to cement our position on water transparency. We think those who signed the original petition would feel let down by Water Minister Melinda Pavey; hopefully she will get a clear indication of what people want with this new petition,” Mrs Scoullar said.
She said the Government’s response was hard to fathom, especially considering water transparency was supposed to be embedded in legislation as part of the National Water Initiative 2004.
“This was supposed to have been done by 2006, but 14 years later we are still waiting. It seems the Government is more concerned with protecting a minority than following the will of the majority.” Mrs Scoullar said there have been concerns raised that an effective Water Register would give water brokers access to volumes of water currently held in accounts. However, they can already do this so it’s a “lame excuse”.
“Regardless, to overcome any concerns we have included in our petition that the register must ‘protect personal phone numbers, emails or residential addresses of individuals with water entitlements as per the Australian Privacy Act 1988’,” she said.
Speak Up is looking for broad support for the petition, which needs 20,000 signatures in 12 weeks for it to be debated in Parliament.
“I want to achieve that well within the timeframe so it is made clear to the New South Wales Government and Water Minister Pavey that this issue needs to be resolved,” Mrs Scoullar said.
The petition can be found on the Speak Up website at www.speakup4water.com or by going to the NSW Parliament website www.parliament.nsw.gov.au, clicking on Petitioning the Assembly on the left hand side of the screen, then ePetitions and selecting NSW Water Register Transparency.