Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader
It’s National Water Week - an important opportunity to reflect on the genuine threat posed to Tasmania by over-exploitation and mismanagement of the State’s life-giving rivers.
The health, way of life, and economic prosperity of Tasmanians are all dependent on our inland waters, but the health of these rivers is declining at an accelerating rate since the Liberals came to government, and so far they have shown little interest in taking action.
Tasmania’s approach to managing our freshwater resources is a relic from another era.
We don’t even know how much water is being used in Tasmania each year, or have a full picture of all the pollutants that are entering our waterways.
What we do know – from the government’s own data – is that rivers right around the island are becoming degraded. We also know this is due to more water being taken out of rivers, and more pollution from agriculture and aquaculture.
Despite this, and the fact we’re facing a drying climate, the Liberals and particularly Resources Minister, Guy Barnett, seem intent on ignoring the evidence and massively expanding water use. They have shown no regard for the impact this will have on our environment.
While using more water for sectors like agriculture might help economic productivity in the short term, the economy, and all Tasmanians, will suffer in the long run if the rivers are run dry. After all, farmers all rely on access to a clean and reliable water supply – and that’s not where we are headed.
It’s time for the Gutwein Government to pause their plans for expanding freshwater extraction, to start listening to scientists like the experts in the Minister’s own agency and scientists such as Dr Christine Coughanowr who are sounding the alarm.