Stop selling off our water - Australians must come first
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Australia has just entered the new year with little to be optimistic about. Wildfires that have been raging for months have caused much pollution and destroyed hundreds of thousands of hectares of land and property, fuelled by extremely dry conditions. Rural towns are running out of water, Sydney's water supply is running low while its population is growing, and farmers are leaving the industry in droves.
For the first time, Australia had to import grain from other countries due to crop failures in 2019. Additionally, the Murray Darling River has suffered fish die-offs due to poor and unlawful water management, causing the water to be undrinkable and unusable.
It is clear that Australia is rapidly becoming a place that is struggling to sustain life. Meanwhile, our Government is asleep at the wheel and continues to sell our water to foreign companies who need it a lot less than what we do. The Adani mine in Queensland, owned by an Indian company, has been granted a groundwater license for 12.5 billion litres while farmers go broke and water restrictions for residents are in effect. More recently, the Chinese company Joyful View has been approved to run a water mining operation in Cherrabah, Brisbane, despite outrage from the local community who will be subjected to extreme water rationing. It is a slap in the face to Australian business owners who are trying to support families, and to residents who are already facing severe water restrictions and the rising cost of food and water. By supporting foreign businesses over Australians, our elected representatives are not acting in our best interests and we should not continue to tolerate it.
Whether you believe in man-made climate change or not, the facts are clear: Australia is in the midst of its worst drought on record and conditions are hotter and dryer than ever before. The drought continues with no end in sight. If this is the new, terrifying normal, both Federal and State Governments need to start treating our water like the precious resource it is and implement emergency water-saving laws as a priority. If we continue to pretend we don't have a problem, Australian businesses will continue to suffer, more towns and cities will run out of water, and as a country, we will be unable to support ourselves and will have to rely on other countries for this basic life necessity. This will place us in an extremely precarious position where other countries can use this as leverage, such as by pressuring us into accepting unfavourable trade terms and other conditions that will negatively impact us.
We demand that the Government takes the following actions:
- an immediate freeze on all water trading activities while a Royal Commission into water management takes place
- make it illegal for government officials to own water, with mandatory jail time if caught. Government officials should also not be able to trade water for any financial gain to themselves or beneficiaries, and be dismissed from public service permanently if caught in unlawful water trading or ownership. If a conflict of interest exists, the government official must not be involved in a water trade
- severe fines and mandatory jail time for companies and individuals caught stealing water, exceeding licenses, polluting or trading illegally
- formation of a new government department dedicated to working with businesses to save water and conducting research into ways to be more water efficient
- higher taxes for water intensive businesses, which increase as water use increases. To lower the tax, businesses should work with the government to implement grey water systems, commit to recycled water only and other water saving activities
- Make it illegal to grow water-intensive crops (such as cotton and rice) in Australia. The government should assist existing commercial growers in transitioning to alternative crops which are more suitable for the Australian climate
- No more water to be allocated or sold to mining companies. They can sell dusty coal for less profits and tighten their belts, as regular Australians have been asked to do
- Fracking should be permanently banned in Australia due to the risk of poisoning groundwater, as it is in many other countries
- No foreign ownership of Australian water, ever. Again, severe fines and mandatory jail time for companies and individuals involved. Any water foreignly owned should be reacquired as soon as possible
- Stricter requrements for businesses to qualify as Australian owned. For example, businesses should not be able to be "Australian owned" if many of their directors and shareholders are not Australian citizens, or if they are run by an offshore parent company
- Australian farmers and agriculture should get priority access to water above other industries. We need to eat more than businesses need to make a profit
- Make it illegal for foreign water extracting, water bottling, and other foreign owned drink bottling companies to operate in Australia if they are using Australian water. Only Australian companies should be selling Australian bottled water (for Australian use), but not if it will impact water access for the towns and cities that rely on the water source
- Household water tanks and grey water systems should be promoted and be fully tax deductible. New houses should be built with grey water systems and water tanks already in place
- Australian water trading needs to be fully transparent to the public and the information freely accessible. Obstructing the public's access to this information should be severely punishable by law
Without water, life is not possible. Please help me secure Australia's future by signing this petition. Access to clean water is a basic human right, and as a citizen, Australia's water is your water. We must come first before any foreign business, political interest or financial gain, otherwise we will all be ruined.
(Image source: Online news article Cracks exist in Australia’s drought management, 09/11/2016, The University of Newcastle, Australia)
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