Media release: National Accord on Water Use

Monday 30 March 2009

Stop the Bickering: Leading Scientist Calls for a National Water Accord.

Who is to blame for the national impasse on water reforms? Autocratic governments? Intransigent irrigators? Thoughtless city-dwellers? Passionate greenies? Naïve scientists? The drought?

Today, a leading scientist called for the bickering to end and for a National Accord on Water Use to be introduced. Professor Gary Jones, CEO of eWater CRC and a scientist with nearly 30 years experience in water and ecological research, today said that without an Accord, the consequences for long-term sustainable water use could be profound. “We will see opposing views becoming more and more entrenched and we will all pay the price,” Professor Jones said today. “Government against government, upstream irrigator against downstream irrigator and city dweller against rural farmer - with the environment withering on the sidelines. The impasse strangles good policy outcomes. “We have reached a log-jam of ideas and complaints and we should have seen it coming.” Professor Jones said he believed that a National Accord on Water Use will see the billions of taxpayers’ money being spent effectively. It will also empower rural and regional communities to take more of a leadership role in the debate over water reform. “Rather than force governments to fight amongst themselves, we have to agree that reform is possible and what is needed. We have to stop the blame game,” said Professor Jones. He said that it was not just about the economics and policy of water. Professor Jones believes there is a human side to the issue and all of those involved in the debate needed to recognise that. “Once an Accord can be reached, water users – all Australians – can then offer governments a ‘social licence’ to operate in all areas of water management. It is a licence that governments so obviously lack right now and need if we are to save Australia’s regional communities and rivers.”