Friday, 31 July 2009

CABINET IN CONFIDENCE? RELEASE THOSE DAM DOCUMENTS NOW, ANNA BLIGH.

Networker Tanzi
from the Save the Mary Co-ordinating Group
has forwarded the following Press Release:

Save the Mary River Coordinating Group
(STMRCG)
is the group leading the fight
to save the Mary River and Great Sandy Strait
from the damage of the Qld Government's
proposed Traveston Crossing dam.
We have been fighting
this proposal since April 2006

Tony Fitzgerald speaks out on increasing corruption in Queensland government and governance.
***MEDIA RELEASE Thursday July 30th, 2009

"RELEASE THOSE DAM DOCUMENTS NOW, PREMIER!"

Ninety-two percent of respondents to a Courier Mail Poll agree Tony Fitzgerald is right on the money in his scathing criticisms of the Beattie and Bligh governments practices – and the lead group in the fight to prevent the proposed damming of the Mary River at Traveston Crossing agrees with them.

Save the Mary River Coordinating Group President, Glenda Pickersgill said today that the group had experienced frustration and anger at the treatment it had received from the government during the last three years.

She called on the government to immediately release all the “Cabinet in Confidence” documents it had relied on to arrive at the decision to dam the Mary River. “The Beattie/Bligh decision was based purely on political expediency and would be a total waste of billions of taxpayer dollars if it was ever allowed to proceed,” Ms Pickersgill said.

Let’s get all the information out there for the public to see so they can see what went on. After all, it was paid for by taxpayers” she said.

"It took a 4-day Senate Enquiry in mid -2007 to force the government to reveal some key reports that it had been denying to us. It also made the startling revelation that the desirability of the Traveston Crossing site was based on the briefest of desktop studies, many pages of which were either maps or blank. Many of the reports commissioned since then would appear to be predicated that they must come out in favour of the dam and the site."

"It really does seem that this government's approach is that a well-oiled (and well financed) media department will cover a multitude of shortcomings."

It would seem that the people of Queensland are now echoing the cry that’s been ringing through the Mary Valley for these last three years, ‘Enough is Enough’.”

END

Contacts for Media: Glenda Pickersgill 0411 443 589. David Kreutz 0432 683 147 Darryl Stewart (Greater Mary Association) 0418 771 655

Website: www.savethemaryriver.com


So you've gotta Public Private Partnership (P3), who do you call....?


The picture at right is from here.

.....Tony Shepherd, of course.

Tony is Chairman of AquaSure, the consortium which, in the biggest Public Private Partnership (P3) in the history of Australia - and the biggest in the world in this time of economic crisis, will build Victoria's desalination plant at Wonthaggi on the Bass Coast.

(The following is sourced here and here.) Tony Shepherd began his career in the Public Service in 1963, when he joined the Federal Department of Supply. In 1974 he started with the Pipeline Authority, eventually moving to the position of Assistant Secretary before joining Transfield Group in 1979. He was Bid Manager for the successful bid for the ANZAC Warships Project in 1988/1989 and in 1989 became the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Infrastructure Development Corporation Pty Limited (IDC). IDC was established by the then State Authorities Superannuation Board, State Bank of NSW and Perry Development Finance Group as a company which advised and assisted the private sector in developing public infrastructure.

Tony Shepherd led ConnectEast’s successful bid team for the EastLink project in 2004 and served as interim Chief Executive Officer until March 2005. He is also Chairman of Transfield Services Ltd.

As an executive of the Transfield Holding Group in the 1980s and 1990s, he was responsible for the development of the
Sydney Harbour Tunnel project and Transfield’s successful tender for the ANZAC Warship Project.

Tony was Chief Executive Officer of the Project Development Division at Transfield Holdings Group from 1992 to 2001. In this position, Tony was responsible for the Melbourne CityLink project, as well as a number of other build-own-operate-transfer projects and development of Walsh Bay. He chaired the consortium which won the Lane Cove Tunnel Project and was an inaugural Director of Transurban Limited. He is a Trustee of the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust and a member of the Premier’s (NSW) Business Roundtable.

Continuing in Victoria, Tony Shepherd has forged a close relationship with the Brumby Government which has found the relationship useful given Shepherd's knowledge of and extensive experience in P3s. It is really no surprise that he has popped up in the desalination project which is not only huge. It is controversial both for the locals on the Bass Coast and the consumers who are looking at huge jumps in their water bills in the next few years. The road to success has been rocky so far for the successful contractor and for the Brumby Government and, in uncertain financial times, the rocks don't disappear.

Brumby & Co have found a co-operative partner in Shepherd. He also sings from the same song-sheet on the matter of the Foodbowl Modernisation Project, otherwise known as the North-South Pipeline. Read his speech at the celebratory dinner for the project here.

.MissEagle
racism-free
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Thursday, 30 July 2009

Will desalination bring on the Hard Rain?

Click to enlarge

Victorian Premier, John Brumby is fond of saying this:
Our Government is committed to
Victoria’s Desalination Project
because we must deliver a solution
that is not rainfall dependent
in an era of climate change.

I find such a statement little short of amazing and believe that this goes to the heart of poor public policy and decision-making with regard to water.

Has John Brumby never heard of the hydrological or water cycle? Perhaps he should take a look at the diagram above...and just so he understands the word "precipitation" is another word for "rainfall".

This planet has had, does have, and will continue to have a hydrological cycle of which rainfall forms an integral part. However, humanity - at least modern western humanity - interferes so much in the cycle. We cover the earth with asphalt, concrete, bitumen, houses, skyscrapers, paving and keep the water from penetrating the earth and prevent the earth from carrying out its capillary action of distributing the water. That is just a part of the whole integrated story. As this scientist says:
The hydrological cycle of rainfall,
runoff and evaporation does not exist in isolation.

And so Victoria is to get a desalination plant long before (or instead of) other more sensible and cost effective measures have been put in place in its capital city, Melbourne.
  • There is much goodwill here for tanks...sufficient for the Government to mandate even the retrofitting of tanks
  • Retrofitting old apartment buildings with water meters
  • Recycling water...as currently happens with water from the Lilydale Sewage Plant.
  • Storm water harvesting
  • Water gardens

Ah well. Why worry if the cure as dictated by the Victorian Government is worse than the complaint? Well, I can't help thinking of Bob Dylan and his song Hard Rain:

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains,
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways,
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests,
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans,
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard,
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard,
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.


MissEagle
racism-free
Photobucket

Desalination contract announced for Victoria - 3

So what next?

Going on previous history of similar
P3 (Public Private Partnership)projects
we can expect to see very quickly two things*
the AquaSure website
and
the listing of AquaSure on the
Australian Stock Exchange.

Dear Networkers,
Miss Eagle will try to keep up with these events
and post the results here.

* Anyone would think Miss Eagle
would stop with the predicitions
since she predicted a win for Veolia
and Suez/Degremont won.
Believer beware. (smile)

MissEagle
racism-free
Photobucket

Desalination contract announced for Victoria - 2

Below is the Media Release from John Gemill on behalf of the Bass Coast Boardriders and Get Real on Climate Change.
Click to enlarge
MissEagle
racism-free
Photobucket

Desalination contract announced for Victoria - 1

It seems it's all over bar the shouting!
The winner of the desal contract has been announced.
It is AquaSure (no website yet)
Sympathies go to ...
- they have run inspirational campaigns.

Please drop them a line and let them know of your support.

Miss Eagle had predicted a Veolia win - but I was wrong. The winner is .... Suez + Degremont + Thiess + Macquarie Group Capital + AGL Energy.

One of the big criticisms regarding the project (but not the only one) has been its energy consumption. The inclusion of AGL Energy and its renewables is clearly designed to counter some of this criticism.

One of the matters that concerns Miss Eagle (and I do hope the Victorian Government examined this closely) is the involvement of Macquarie Group Capital in the project. Their involvement in the Brisbane Airport Link project did not leave them covered in glory. A year ago this was the story. These days there are question marks hanging over the Macquarie Model of investment with subsidiaries disowning their parentage and breaking away from the management company.

So will all be well and at peace with water policy here in Victoria? Somehow I doubt it. This is the biggest public private partnership in the history of Australia and it is announced at a time when there is substantial concern over the economic value of P3s to the taxpayers.

Further reading:

MissEagle
racism-free
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TAKE BACK AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS FROM THE CORPORATIONS: Ban all political donations

BAN POLITICAL DONATIONS
TAKE OUR GOVERNMENTS BACK
FROM THE CORPORATIONS
Anna Bligh, the Premier of Queensland, has stepped up to the plate.
Top marks, Anna.
Let us, the ordinary citizens of Australia,
ask ourselves a few questions.

  • How do you feel when, as communities or individuals, you battle against major corporations and don't seem to get a look in even if we get an appointment and the Minister appears to listen and comprehend?
  • Are you whinging to yourself, talking back to the TV, whinging to the converted in your organisation about the decisions of government?
  • Sitting back in amazement as corporations pay huge money for a table with a Minister at a political party (all parties do this) fundraiser when you are battling to put food on yours?
I can tell you that when I ask myself those questions,
I am thoroughly cheesed off - in the extreme.

I am a member of or connected loosely to a number of organisations with water as their central theme:
and I have friends in other states connected to water campaigns in their areas such as Rivers SOS.

And who are we battling against? Who has the ear of government?
  • Major corporations such as Suez and Veolia
  • Major miners such as BHP Billiton, XStrata, Shenhua, Santos, Woodside
  • Agricultural organisations and their lobbyists (sometimes agreement, a lot of times not)
  • Publicly owned water corporations who listen to the above and not to the community
In short, individuals are scarcely heard by government.

There is a reason for this. Governments are bureaucracies and bureaucracies do not relate well, if at all, to individuals. They only comprehend entities with some type of organisational basis and the bigger the organisations the more they comprehend. Large organisations have bureaucracies too and communications are best when large bureaucracies ie governments talk to other large bureaucracies ie major corporations.

Of course, the corporations have learned to do it with money, unique business skills, and technology.

Those of us without financial resources
have only ever had one form of power -
numbers formed into effective organisation.

It is high time Australians took their governments back from the corporations and from institutional greed. We can only do this if we take away political donations and substitute total public funding (meaning less spectacular campaigns and advertising!).

There are other things which Bligh says she is doing: making it impossible for Ministers to go straight into the lobbying "profession"; banning success fees and so on. But all those things are nit-picking compared with the ONE THING NECESSARY - banning donations to political parties.

This is an idea whose time has come.

People are still discussing how Obama managed to tap into small people for donations. But, of course, the corporates would not have missed their opportunity either. I am talking about banning the lot - even backyard barbecue fundraisers, of which I have organised many.

Below is the discussion in the USA - with even Jack McCoy of Law and Order in his real life persona as Sam Waterston promoting the idea.

I feel strongly on this issue.

I feel so strongly that I must say that community organisations who do not promote publicly funded elections are doing their constituency a disservice. They are condemning themselves to be voices in the wilderness while the corporates roll on by to Ministerial appointments and fundraising tables with the Ministers.

Let us as individuals and community organisations
get right behind Anna Bligh.
Let's take back our governments
so that we have government for Australians by Australians
not by corporates for corporates...
and their toadying Ministers and ex-Ministers.

MissEagle
racism-free
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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Steve Posselt kayaks 4 earth on Cry Me A River Journey along the Murray and the Goulburn - what's left of them.


STEVE'S AT IT AGAIN
Cry Me A River Journey
Starts
Saturday 1 August 2009
9.00am Old Echuca Port

This time Steve is highlighting the Goulburn and Murray Rivers. These are rivers under threat. Not least of the concerns affecting this area is the North-South Pipeline or, as the Victorian Government describes it, The Foodbowl Modernization Project.

Steve is a great Networker and Friend of this blog. He has actually promised that while I am pre-occupied with being chief cook and bottle washed at the Australian Quaker Centre during September and October, he will provide The Network with some posts. Anyways, Steve goes on to say:

G’day from me,

Basically this is to give you a “heads up” on the next trip if you are not already aware of it. Details will be on the web site and I invite you to check it out and follow the trip.

This one is going to be very tough physically but it is a bit of a sprint at just over 500km in two weeks. The main problem is that Victoria is cold and wet and most of the trip is upstream against, at times, a 4km/hr current. Seeing as I average 6m/hr on long paddles that is significant.

In two sentences, why am I paddling across Victoria? It is to bring to the attention of Melbourne people what the North South Pipeline means. It is a pipe that I can stand up in without bending, to pump water from the Murray River system, a system that now does not reach the sea and is drying out from the bottom up, receding upon itself, so that people and businesses in Melbourne can use the water once and discharge it to the sea on the other side of the great dividing range from which it came.

This is wrong. It is sheer madness. Due process was not followed. As usual it was a political decision and the water industry is asked to fall in line. On top of this it seems that the Victorian Government has a phobia about recycling water.

I am joining the fight and I ask that you at least go to the web site and follow the trip. We would really love your support.

Steve

PS If you don’t agree with what I have said and you want to give me a serve, go for it.

To contact me ph 0438 138 982

www.kayak4earth.com


CRY ME A RIVER
ITINERARY
(bearing in mind this is an adventure and things may change on the way)


SATURDAY 1 AUGUST

Depart Echuca Port 10.00am
from near paddle steamers,
accompanied by as many boats & canoes as possible,
and Paddle Steamer horns.
Supporters on river bank with placards.
Media Event

WEDNESDAY 5 AUGUST

Arrive Shepparton about 4.30pm.
Supporters to welcome at site below.

THURSDAY 6 AUGUST

Depart Shepparton 10AM
Breakfast BBQ 9-10AM
Location-Goulburn River
bank to left of 1st bridge on
Shepparton end of Peter Ross-Edwards Causeway
- take dirt road before crossing bridge.
Media Event

FRIDAY 7 AUGUST

Arrive Murchison 1.00 pm,
at Caravan Park,
then Goulburn Weir at dusk

SATURDAY 8 AUGUST

Paddle weir in morning,
arriving Nagambie mid-day- 12-1PM
meet local supporters on lawns
in middle of Nagambie

SUNDAY 9 AUGUST

Arrive Seymour 3.00pm

TUESDAY 11 AUGUST

Arrive Killingworth 4.00pm
N-S Pipeline pump site.

WEDNESDAY 12 AUGUST

Depart Killingworth 10.00am 9-10AM
Boats in river accompany Steve
200 metres upstream to gravel banks.
Supporters on Goulburn River bank with placards, banners.
Media Event

THURSDAY 13 AUGUST

Arrive Yarra Glen 5.00pm.

FRIDAY 14 AUGUST

9AM 40km down Yarra.
Put canoe in river at Vasey bridge.
Supporters to farewell - banners & placards

SATURDAY 15 AUGUST

40km down Yarra

SUNDAY 16 AUGUST

15km into Melbourne arriving 1.00pm.
Arrive to crowd of supporters and accompanied by other canoes.
Media Event


Click Map For More Detail


Main events for media
Echuca
Saturday 9.00am - 10.00am
Shepparton
Thursday morning 9.00am
(plus Wed night arriving at dusk)
Murchison
Friday mid-day
Nagambie
Saturday mid-day
Seymour
Sunday mid afternoon
Killingworth
Wednesday 9.00am - 10.00am
Melbourne
Finish Sunday 1.00pm


Listen to Steve's Recent ABC Radio Interview
with Joseph Thomsen
Click HERE

Recent Media Involving Steve

Kayak4earth supports Plug the Pipe and others stop the North South ...
6 days ago - Author, adventurer and engineer Steve Posselt will paddle up the Goulburn River and over the Great Divide into Melbourne this month to lend his profile to ...
Country News - McPherson Media Group
1 day ago - Campaigning kayaker Steve Posselt will be paddling upstream in his mission to draw attention to the "follies" of the Victorian Government in building the ...
Cry Me A River – Pipeline Policy A Real Drag | Friends of the ...
21 Jul 2009 - The folly of the State Government's North-South pipeline water policy will be exposed by author, adventurer and lifelong water-engineer Steve Posselt, ...
River concerns run deep | Local News | Lismore Northern Star
20 Jul 2009 - Steve Posselt (left), of Alstonville, shares his concerns about the state ... Adventurer and water engineer, Steve Posselt, said the river was slowly dying ...
Author Talk with Steve Posselt
17 Jul 2009 - After paddling and dragging a kayak on a gruelling 3000 kilometre journey you might expect river campaigner Steve Posselt to have run out of puff But the .
If it's not nailed down! - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting ...
14 Jul 2009 - Steve Posselt: 14 Jul 2009 10:57:39am. Well said Kellie. I am a civil engineer and have been in the water industry since 1971. ..

MissEagle
racism-free
Photobucket

Peacefull Susan clowning for a Culture of Peace

I met a marvellous person at the weekend. It was the Mid-Winter Gathering of the Victorian Regional Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) at Amberley. (Pictures above taken at Amberley last week-end by Miss Eagle.)

Her name is Susan Carew
who does funny business as Peacefull the Clown.

Susan is all about empowering communities. She is a Rotary Peace Scholar, a conflict resolution trainer/educator and a World Peace Clown. She travelled to Russia with Dr Patch Adams and believes that positive humour and crative action can facilitate a change to a better society. Can I say how wonderfully Susan performed beguiling young and old alike and setting a way before us, a path to follow. If you go to this website, you will find that we are in the middle of The International Decade for the Culture of Peace .To find out more about the Culture of Peace Initiative please go here.
Click to enlarge

Susan's world view is summed up by her poem 'The Gift'.

THE GIFT

My highest wish is happiness,

It is the gift I give to all,

To see the smiling faces,

To catch them before they fall.

To be a clown,

Is like surround sound,

It spreads a ray of sunshine,

To all without discrimination,

Without impatience,

To see the world as one,

To inspire and have some fun.

I have no enemies,

I have no-one to hate,

To me there is no nation state,

I see the world as my family,

I just want to bring them home,

Into the warmth of love and kindness,

So no-one feels alone.

I see every story,

In its real glory,

I know the potential of what can be,

I long to set them free,

Into a world of their own making,

Into a world that is no longer breaking into fragments of glass,

Shards of misunderstanding,

Where we see only a fraction of what is true,

We assume that it is not safe,

That is the myth,

That is the spin,

That disempowers and tries to win.

One truth is that life begins,

When we step out of the comfort zone,

The boundaries of insecurity build walls,

We are not alone,

And when we step out of illusion,

Of misconceptions,

We realize that there is no fear,

That there are many tears,

That are flowing down the rivers of separation,

But they will reach the headwater,

They will unite in the end,

The journey is the experience,

That life sends.

I believe in peace,

I believe in goodness,

I believe in action,

I know that for every cause there is an equal and opposite reaction.

My life is dedicated to principle,

I know the answers are simple,

When you throw away judgment,

When you throw away hurt,

When you throw away hate,

And think about what you’ve learned.

Under the canopy of respect,

You will never reject,

The will of others,

They must travel their own path,

We need to learn to laugh,

Life is the comedy,

Perhaps I am the fool,

But just maybe,

That’s the school for world peace.

MissEagle
racism-free
Photobucket

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Much ado about "Bundy on Tap"

I have received the following report on the public meeting at Bundanoon from Virginia Falk who had been asked to offer the "Welcome to Country" at the Bundanoon on Tap meeting. If I might be permitted a word of explanation to her commentary below, it is quite apparent that Virginia was asked to provide a purely symbolic "Welcome to Country", thus ignoring the fact that she is well qualified (in every sense) to speak authoritatively on the importance of water to the entire community.

Trouble is, Bundanoon did not want to hear anything from her other than a few "nice" words of welcome.
Following that Meeting, Virginia sent me the following report which I am honoured to publish.

Denis Wilson
Robertson NSW
Much Ado about “Bundy On Tap”

Our little village of Bundanoon created a media frenzy when community were to decide whether to ban water bottles or not. Contrary to the impression created by some media journalists, who were not present at the meeting, community residents attended with open-minds and were orderly during their attendance. However, many Bundanoon residents left the meeting in an angry mood.
Protests on environmental issues tend to carry some remnant of the unkempt hair, daggy t-shirt and shorts image, where greenie activists study political science or philosophy. Wrong impressions were created by the Media. The Bundanoon Green Movement fell across various social categories, from business owners, retirees and young families and Indigenous. Hardly the rabid stereotype of Greenie, chaining themselves to bulldozers in eucalypt forests or kayaking ‘con placard’ down the Franklin. So what was the monumental fuss?

Several committee representatives met with me prior to the Bundy On Tap community meeting, the invitation was put to me to address the Indigenous issues to water on the environment that haunted the Indigenous Environmental Movement. After four years of doctoral research on this topic there were more points to address than time frames allowed. The Green message was restricted to banning of water bottles. Not on the untenable level of water extraction, the social colonial witch-hunt on swamps over generations and the lack of research commitment to a la “Peter Andrews hydrology” of restoring endemic Indigenous environments through alternative methodology. Words such as Climate Change were few.

The Government “Silo” approach to Indigenous policy on the effects of environmental sustainability is always focussed on grant-cycle riparian planting, redundant environmental tertiary certificates that have no pathways for Indigenous peoples and where terminated Indigenous government projects and organisations often ‘top-up’ consolidated government revenue. Every Indigenous Australian that has gathered to government conferences in hope of career networking or grandstanding personal opinion, the conference ‘junkies come away with Indigenous logos upon pencils, embossed t-shirts and numerous meaningless fact sheets.
This dark view of an Indigenous world is not a “Harry Potter-like” screenplay of good versus evil, it is by the slick use of captivating animation and the use of fantasy genre to deliver complex narration in memento of ‘useless things’. Bottled water themes when singled out from complex environmental subject matter are fantastic ventures into Enviro-space that deny an Indigenous existence in Australian Conservation and Climate Change fora. Attempting to forge the purist Green message while disabling Indigenous academic and community participation in research, debate and knowledge transference - is meaningless waffle. This is what came out from Bundanoon's experiment.

The official tally on the Bundy on Tap vote was 354 for a ban on bottled water, with 2 against, one of which was a representative of a city Water business. During the “Do Something” PowerPoint presentation, the representative progressed the down-side of plastic containers. Attempts by community members to inform the “peoples” debate were “cut-off” in midstream.
I was the only speaker who was timed by a gong after several minutes. Funny how this experience was more in keeping with a stint on a local talent show than in evidence-based discussion. The Shepherd’s Hook would have been less painful and less embarrassing.

Through the evening the presentation emphasised the pollution factor to plastic bottles, not the entire still and sparkling water business practice that should expose Australia’s well-documented over-extraction of groundwater and the significance of water holes, springs and the existence of Indigenous heritage sites to these water systems.
In recent water research, I was commissioned by government to develop an Indigenous water policy in Western Australia. The request for a “reserved water allocation” met with political stone-walling. The status quo for consumptive water being politically lobbied by a range of water interest groups is the Australian model. Indigenous ‘first occupant’ status is considered tantamount to sedition. Un-Australian?

After a media frenzy of putting “Bundanoon Village” on cyber-space for posterity, the media aftermath felt like the Melbourne and Sydney Water Summits, where water conferences are run by industry and government. The Indigenous environmental concerns were under the radar, uninvited and received no media coverage.

Radio and television interviews for “Bundy banned water bottles” were saturated by reporting in ‘stock Greenie’ questions and answers. The silence on Indigenous water issues was apparent. This social mistreatment for discrete numeric minorities is core business in Australia. There is a rhetoric argument in lines such as, “The Lucky Country” or “if we lived in an emerging market economy without human rights you would be in prison now for your opinion”. I would rather be bored by reruns of polluting plastic bottles.

Social commentary talk shows in Australia are full of Indigenous media personalities that operate out of their generalist area and media hosts still employ well-worn “Aborigines vs Us” material that is facile and ineffective. On 20 July 2009, on a non-commercial channel this question and answer “Stanner” format was deployed from a journalist enquiring on the “political sufferings” of Indigenous peoples and the guest did not flinch to the stereotype question format. That is, Australian ‘sofa-sitters’ solving the “Aboriginal Problem”, as quoted by Stanner in his essay. This inane chatter raises the same fate for Indigenous environmental concerns in Australia.

For other Indigenous peoples who share a common conscience and contribute to the collective knowledge in water and its use, the ‘conference t-shirt’ appeals now more than superficial programming. Perhaps even the commercial channels would be turned from a series titled, “Two men, a tinny and a slab of bottled water”.

During the Garma “Indigenous Water Conference” 2008 the Indigenous attendees were in consensus that ‘water is sacred’. Following these intense discussions on how Indigenous peoples will be engaged in their respective communities in water management and decision-making, inclusive on the interface of environmental policy, the government attendees and university representatives and Western Scientists were ‘stumm’. Like the Bundy Bottled Water event, the message was about creating more opportunities for non-Indigenous parties to direct and inform the water research debate, through more Commonwealth paid ‘cut and paste’ style reporting. Over the past week just count how many informed, Indigenous researchers on water issues were interviewed by the media. Times up. There is no need to count.

When the Human Rights Commission requested a contribution to the current Native Title Report 2008 I was enthusiastic that this would broaden the environmental concerns of Indigenous Australian’s to the rest of the Australian community. Not so. The current HREOC report has substance and progressive material than previous years, where a chapter on Indigenous water has not even raised a media eye-brow. The chapter on water in the recent “Indigenous Australians and the Law” (2nd edition) and other contributions in this book informs the state of Indigenous Affairs by many Indigenous authors. However, this didn’t create the media frenzy that “banning bottled water” did across the Global stage. Last weeks broadsheets ran the Intervention and similar expose, not water rights. Again the mix of abuse, petrol sniffing and income quarantine conflates the underlying issues that don’t sell news.

Climbing Uluru did attract the “One Australia” melting pot fanatics and the genuine protesters to address the racial insensitivity to Indigenous cultural landscapes that were ancestrally formed not “discovered”, as some naturalist theorists and contributors affirm. Genesis and other world beliefs are sacred, why are Indigenous beliefs “myths”. Any takers?

The entire “bottled water debate” has missed the proverbial boat to England. Where water is defined as a ‘natural resource’, any policy will fail. For instance, where land and water have now been separated under Commonwealth and State legislation in Australia to affect a market enterprise and property interest, the Indigenous and informed Environmental lobbyist has been cut loose. The commodification of water devalues the communal significance of water. Australian has now legislated private rights to water as the norm. Funny how Australia believes it has sufficient human rights protection. The right to water is an international article at law. Read through Australia’s legislation, it’s absent.

I remember a number of years ago, driving around NSW and making enquiries on the level of interest from Real Estates to the Commonwealth ‘new’ unbundled water rights. Local people would say that they had calls from ‘out-of-towners’ wanting to buy their water licences for sums of money that was unprecedented to modest rural owners. Today, the water price has risen well above the ‘cockies’ ability to buy back into the market. For Indigenous landowners wanting water, the words, the "horse has bolted and left the stadium" are ringing true. Indigenous peoples in Australian have an allocation after everyone else gets their newly packaged ‘bottled water’.

The Indigenous Land Corporation, as told to me, has held onto water licences that have not been restored to Indigenous landholders. The Indigenous ‘bushies’ should have staged a ban on water in their rural and remote communities and infused this debate with the ‘real’ policy issues. Perhaps “Do Something” could hire out some reps to create a new media frenzy “coming to a town near you”. No fellow Australians, “gammon”. Meaning ‘just kidding’.

Water is not just a natural resource, a commodity or a consumer product. It is sacred. We just haven’t been allowed to debate the facts and figures. That’s democracy.

Virginia Falk
Bundanoon, NSW.

Solicitor
LLM LLB Grad.Dip.Legal Prac. BA(Hons) BVocEd

racism-free

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