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Easing back into things « Previous | |Next »
May 7, 2003

I did not see any television whilst on holiday in Mallacoota Inlet. Nor did I listen to the radio. I did glance at The Australian and The Age now and again. I noticed that Meg Lees had formed a new party; that the neo-liberals had launched their attack on public health dimension of the welfare state to create a two tier health system. Whilst the Labor leadership squabbles over strong and popular leadership, the Liberals position themselves within the Labor Party's 'natural' territory.

I also couldn't help noticing that Angela Shanahan was accusing second wave feminists of being all career and no motherhood yet again.

And John Howard had been feted in Washington; the West was still going on about terrorism; the Palestinians were under US pressure and fish feel pain when hooked.

Tis easing back into things ever so gently.

And I noted that John Howard was even talking up water policy (salinity, water rights and tree clearing) as being an important part of his third term policy agenda. Under clear treeing is the regulatory environmental state. How far will the Howard government embrace tough constraints on liberty? The key focus of this water policy is on a nationally acceptable water right system to facilitate free trade in water and to ensure compensation for adjustment for farmers. Under such a regulatory trading regime water will gravitate to most high value users who can then achieve significant productive benefit with less amount of water.

So we have a heavy sell for the market as a neo-liberal instrument for sustainability----production in the Murray Darling basin will double and the amount of water used will halve.

But will this instrument achieve long-term sustainability and enhance the health of our rivers? Or will it be used to increase the irrigated land under cultivation? Is sustainability the new wrapping for yet more water development?

I find it odd that people talk about (water) rights for something that has been little more than access entitlements. Yet a national system of water rights remains the core of water reform and water reform along with health is high on Howard's third term agenda.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:20 AM | | Comments (1)
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