Politicians are being encouraged to stop bickering and start looking at effective solutions to improve the management of precious water supplies.
The Speak Up Campaign is urging politicians to start considering the future and ways that can address changes to water management, instead of continually focusing on how to score political points.
“This was never more evident than in the past week when efforts to change the Murray-Darling Basin Plan were introduced into parliament by the National Party,” Speak Up chair Lachlan Marshall said.
“Straight away, all we saw was fighting, name-calling and efforts to denigrate the other side of politics. We elect people to make decisions around what is best for our nation, so why can’t they start doing that?” he asked.
Mr Marshall said achievable opportunities exist that could improve water supply towards the end of the Murray-Darling system, especially around Adelaide, and encouraged everyone to look at how they can be implemented.
“South Australia is concerned about its fresh water supply, and rightly so. We have been told inflows are decreasing and that within 80 years the rising sea levels are likely to see the barrages in the Lower Lakes under sea water.
“At the same time, in the Northern Basin we have challenges with unlicensed and unmetered water take, and we know the Murray River is being pushed so hard the banks are collapsing, while sand sediment build-up is reducing the capacity of the narrowest section of the Murray, the Barmah Choke.
“Combine all these factors and it seems the perfect time to take stock, re-think our water management and look to ways it can be improved,” Mr Marshall said.
He said an obvious starting point would be investing the some of the remaining funds of the $13 billion from the Basin Plan to securing South Australia’s fresh water supply.
“Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was determined to set up Australia as a nation of innovators. Where is this innovation when we need it? Instead, all we get is political point-scoring, to the detriment of the Australian people.
“Innovations could include automating the barrages, re-diverting more flows from the south-east drains into the Coorong and making better use of solar energy to power desalination plants. These plants were built largely with federal taxpayer funds but usually operate well below capacity, or not at all, because the South Australian Government believes they cost too much to run.
“We could also improve management of the Lower Lakes to stop the equivalent of 1.6 Sydney Harbours evaporating – and thus being wasted – each and every year,” Mr Marshall said.
“So instead of bickering and trying to throw each other under the bus at any given opportunity, Speak Up encourages politicians of all persuasions to look at how we can better manage our water.
“Without this approach, we will not develop the water management solutions that are in the best interests of our nation’s future,” he said.