Thursday, 9 July 2009

Bundanoon Bans While Norlex Bottles On - 1

Picture from here
Yesterday, there was much rejoicing about Bundanoon's decision on bottled water. Now, this blog does not resile from that. However, that great Networker Denis of The Nature of Robertson has put the decision in a broader perspective than one would get from the news media - particularly the news media of Rupert Murdoch's stable. I would hope that John Hartigan, Rupert's head honcho in Oz, takes note after his vent on blogs in a most News-centric fashion. Rightly or wrongly, blogs have the capacity to bring the news behind the news. Blogs vary but so do news outlets. They filter. They display bias. They follow their own whims and projects. Guess what? Just like bloggers. Over to you Denis:
Oh by the way,
Denis and I are active members of the Australian Water Network.

Here is the Daily Telegraph's reporter's report of the public meeting in Bundanoon.

Town votes to ban bottled water : July 08, 2009 10:05pm

THE sleepy Southern Highlands hamlet of Bundanoon has voted to ban bottled water, just hours after the New South Wales Government announced its own H2O boycott.

At a community meeting tonight, Bundanoon locals overwhelmingly supported the Australia-first ban on commercially bottled water, already agreed to by businesses in the town.

Local businessman and Bundy on Tap organiser Huw Kingston said almost 400 people turned up to the Bundanoon Memorial Hall, with only two casting dissenting votes.

The voluntary ban has been triggered by concerns about the carbon footprint associated with bottling and transporting the water.

Free water fountains will be installed in the NSW village, southwest of Sydney, to replace the bottled H2O.

"It was the biggest ever turnout in the community here at Bundanoon - it's overwhelming support,'' Mr Kingston said.

"We can now continue with our route of making Bundanoon Australia's first bottled water-free town.

"We can go forward with the strength of the community and the businesses right behind us.'

In a double blow for the bottled water industry, NSW Premier Nathan Rees has signalled an end to idle chit-chat around the water cooler for NSW public servants.

Mr Rees today announced an immediate ban on all departments and agencies buying bottled water, including supplies for water coolers.

It was the first step in a government campaign to significantly reduce the consumption of bottled water in the community, Mr Rees said.

Australians spent about $500 million on bottled water in 2008, a 10 per cent increase on 2007.

"These plastic bottles are everywhere,'' Mr Rees said.

"It's not just the direct plastic bottle that causes the physical reality in our local environment.

"Bear this in mind, you take a 600ml plastic bottle, 200ml of oil has gone into its production. "That's leaving aside the C02 that comes from transporting it around the place.''

Bottled water has been banned in ministerial offices at Governor Macquarie Tower in Sydney's CBD since Mr Rees became premier last year.

Environmental group Do Something! welcomed the government and Bundanoon bans, saying they could be the catalyst for change in the community.

"It's all about common sense,'' Do Something! director Jon Dee said.

"When you reduce the usage of bottled water you're not just saving the environment, you're also saving your wallet at the same time.

"It makes total sense whether you're a government department or whether you're a company, whether it's in smaller bottles or the larger bottles that get delivered to offices.''

Mr Dee said it made no sense for people to pay twice as much for a litre of bottled water than for a litre of petrol.

"The bottled water industry has managed to convince people that bottled water is somehow pure or better for you than water you drink out of the tap,'' he said.

"But we have amongst the best tap water in the world.''

But Geoff Parker, director of the Australasian Bottled Water Institute, which represents the industry, said he was disappointed by the bans.

Both restricted consumer choice, he said.

The environmental footprint of one bottle of water of locally produced water would be much smaller than a tin of canned tomatoes imported from overseas, some imported cheese, or French champagne, he said.

I think we need to keep it in perspective.'

I attended the meeting in Bundanoon tonight.

My own comment on the meeting's strategy is this:

Unfortunately, because of a decision clearly taken before the meeting tonight, in Bundanoon by the organisers and sponsors of this proposal, discussion of the real issue of concern about water in Bundanoon was repeatedly ruled out of order.

The real issue is the Norlex proposal to build a bottled water processing facility in Bundanoon. The facts of the case were raised on no less than 4 separate occasions by members of the public. Each speaker was abruptly told their comments were "out of order" - to the disbelief of most of the assembled citizens of Bundanoon.

Consequently, the Daily Telegraph Editorial Writer is able to easily ridicule the Bundanoon community's concern about carbon footprint of bottled water.

It was not about that at all - except perhaps in the minds of the people trying to control tonight's meeting. They were falling over themselves to maintain a "politically correct" distinction between this campaign and opposition to the Norlex proposal, and the Wingecarribee Shire Council's support for Norlex.

The "Bundy on Tap" committee had a great slogan, but they have been too smart by half in trying to "spin the bottle" story to suit their own purposes.

The 356 people who attended the meeting tonight were there because of the 3 year campaign to "Don't bore Bundanoon", not because of the carbon footprint issue.

The decision to rule out of order comments about the fact that the local Council had this afternoon approved a plan by the company wanting to pump water from its bore in Bundanoon has allowed the Telegraph to get away with a total distortion of the truth. (See below)

We must always remember the power of the Bottled Water industry to influence the Media in Australia.

Daily Telegraph Editorial 9 July 2009 -Tapping a rich vein of lunacy

Article from: July 09, 2009 12:00am

THE United States once experimented, disastrously, with Prohibition. From 1919 to 1933 the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal.

Now NSW is apparently set on introducing H2Oibition - a ban on bottled water.

This is less to do with genuine environmental concern than it is to do with leaping aboard a fashionable bandwagon. Yesterday saw the spectacle of Premier Nathan Rees banning bottled water for public servants, after considering the matter for all of several seconds.

The Rees decree follows a bottled water ban in the small town of Bundanoon (population: 2500), introduced due to concerns about the carbon footprint caused by plastic used to contain the water and the fuel used to transport it.

Quite why water is being singled out is unclear. Many other liquids intended for consumption are sold in plastic bottles, and all require transportation.

The argument that water is already available from taps is beside the point. People buy bottled water for convenience. It may have escaped Bundanoon's notice, but the portable tap is yet to be invented.

Like Prohibition, which gave rise to alcohol-making crime outfits, H2Oibition may backfire. Take bottled water out of shops and supermarkets and thirsty customers will have no choice but to purchase other products - possibly sugar-laden soft drinks and the like.

It's a very strange week when restrictions are proposed both for cigarettes (with the Federal Government suggesting a price hike to $20 a packet) and also for the most abundant and natural substance on the face of the earth.

Must be something in the water.

What a great shame that poor judgement of how to "control" the Bundanoon audience has allowed the Daily Telegraph to laugh the good citizens of Bundanoon out of court.

The people of Bundanoon deserve better - from the Daily Telegraph Editor - and from the organisers of tonight's meeting. Unfortunately, it was because of the poor judgement of the meeting organisers, attempting to deny what everybody in Bundanoon knows - that the real issue of concern is "Don't Bore Bundanoon".

As a result, Bundanoon may well end up being the only town in Australia where sale of bottled water has been rejected by the public, while the Council is facilitating construction of a Water bottling plant in the heart of the village. If so, then the people of Bundanoon must surely regret the lost opportunity of tonight's meeting.

It is cloud-cuckoo-land stuff to pretend that it is not relevant to the meeting to discuss the fact that Council voted this afternoon to approve a Development Application for an "industrial site" in Bundanoon. There is a separate matter to do with the Norlex bore which is currently before the Land and Environment Court. Even if that is "sub judice" I do not believe it is technically a bar on public discussion - (certainly it has been reported in the media).

Bundanoon has run a "Don't Bore Bundanoon" campaign over 3 years or more.
It is entirely a NIMBY campaign, and has always been so. That's why the people turned up tonight - NOT for concerns about the carbon footprint of plastic bottled water.
Certainly Jon Dee got them enormous publicity. But in the end, if they refuse to be "political", even on this local issue, then they will end up with a bottling plant in the middle of a village where bottled water is boycotted.

Finally, they were at pains to point out that they only oppose "still" bottled water.
Is there not an issue with "sparkling mineral water"?

Miss Eagle's comment:
Denis have a look at the post above where Geoff Parker mentions value adding to the water. Could this be what he means? Turning still water into sparkling water? The locals at Bundanoon might like to avail themselves of the information in this article, even if it covers the USA scene.

That makes me suspect that a deal has been done, behind the scenes - but I have no evidence of that.

Denis Wilson

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