The Speak Up Campaign has accused the Federal Government of “lots of rhetoric sadly lacking action” during National Water Week 2020.
It believes while the government says it is celebrating the week, from October 19-25, it should instead be hanging its head in shame.
Speak Up Chair Shelley Scoullar said successive governments have made a huge mess of water policy for more than a decade; arguably the biggest policy mismanagement in any area. But they have shown a unique ability to turn a blind eye, allowing this to continue because fixing it would be too politically sensitive.
“As a result we are wasting huge amounts of this precious resource, damaging the environment that government policies are supposed to protect, limiting our nation’s agricultural production and prosperity, and not supporting jobs and economies in regional towns.
“Yet from one end of government to the other there has not been the willpower to fix it,” Mrs Scoullar said.
She described the Water Week theme, ‘Reimagining our Water Future’, as a bit of a “sad joke”, while doing some ‘imagining’:
· Can you imagine what our rural communities would be like if governments worked collaboratively with local communities to effectively share water between the environment and growing food and fibre?
· Can you imagine what farmers could do if governments stopped unnaturally flooding forests as they try to pour so much water down to the end of the system, turning the Murray River into a drainage channel, and instead prioritised that wasted water for food and fibre production?
· Can you imagine the jobs that would be created in agriculture and its value-add manufacturing sector if governments were serious about their claims of growing the agricultural industry to $100 billion by 2030?
· Can you imagine the ecological benefits if governments accepted that a farm is a unique ecosystem in its own right, and supported flora and fauna on-farm?
Mrs Scoullar said she was amazed at a comment from federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who said when talking about the aim for a $100 billion industry: ‘In agriculture, it’s a case of just add water.’
“We’ve been trying to tell the government for many years that the food bowls of Australia in southern New South Wales and northern Victoria can return to the days when they fed Australia and the world if we ‘just add water’.
“But they refuse to listen and take the necessary steps. They won’t acknowledge their mistakes or implement sensible solutions to effectively share water between environmental and productive use.
“If the time ever comes when this attitude changes, perhaps we can then ‘reimagine our water future’ and our regional farming communities will again get the chance to make their significant contribution to Australia’s prosperity,” Mrs Scoullar said.