Guest post by Dam Buster of Preston
Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt have again shown their complete ignorance of the facts with their latest feather-fisted attack on comments made by Tim Flannery.
Here’s what Flannery said during a Lateline interview on June 10, 2005:
MAXINE McKEW: And South Australia and Victoria — what would you say? What’s the good news, what’s the bad news?
TIM FLANNERY: Well, the good news for South Australia is that we are at the end of the Murray River catchment, and our water can taste awful at times and can be rather poor quality, but we do have a large catchment behind it for a relatively small city. So water quality is going to be a significant issue for Adelaide. There is increasing recycling, of course, here as well, which is a good thing. Melbourne’s doing very well with recycling but Melbourne’s also vulnerable to water deficits. It’s a large city, it’s in an area of quite dramatic climate change, and therefore will be vulnerable as well.
MAXINE McKEW: Let’s cover the issue of pricing of water, Tim. Who’s ahead of the game there?
TIM FLANNERY: Well, Jeff Kennett, for all the terrible things he did, perhaps, to many of us, actually did a lot of reforms that were quite important, and water was among them. It used to be in Melbourne that water would be on a rated basis with a little bit of a cost for your extra water. That’s changed now and you pay for the water you use and there’s a stepped tariff, and that’s a great — that sends a strong signal to the user that water is a precious commodity not to be wasted, and you’ll have to pay for water, and if you use a lot of water you pay a lot more, and that’s the sort of message we really need to get through. I really can’t emphasise that enough, that, you know, in this period of uncertainty, we have to be very careful of our water resources because a lot’s at stake.
Nothing new there. Melbourne is vulnerable to climate change, as highlighted in the CSIRO Climate Change Study. Refer to page 17, which states in part that:
“the impact on water supply availability, both streamflow changes due to climate change and population growth scenarios were used. The system yield analysis showed that the streamflow reduction for the mid-range climate change scenario in Table 2 would result in an 8% reduction in the average annual volume able to be supplied in 2020 rising to 20% by 2050. This data was then used to assess the shortfall and buffer between supply and demand.”
Of course, over the past 10 years the actual streamflow into Melbourne’s storages has been well below even the 8 per cent reduction:
So what does The Age report state that contradicts the above? Here’s what Blair quoted:
Melbourne will have so much water in the next few decades it will no longer make economic sense to install rainwater tanks or greywater systems in new homes, a State Government-commissioned report has found.
However, if he’d quoted a little more of the story, we would have seen the following:
MELBOURNE will have so much water in the next few decades it will no longer make economic sense to install rainwater tanks or greywater systems in new homes, a State Government-commissioned report has found.
The Government’s big water projects, including the controversial desalination plant and north-south pipeline, will eliminate the need for ambitious water saving targets for new homes, apartments and renovated houses, according to the report by the Institute of Sustainable Futures, based at the University of Technology, Sydney.
Despite Melbourne Water chairwoman Cheryl Batagol last week expressing concern that the Government’s water plan “may not be enough”, the report said the $4.9 billion projects will yield an extra 240 billion litres “resulting in a likely surplus … until well beyond 2050″.
Do Blair and Bolt even read the articles to which they link? Seems not, and it appears as though they’ve “beclowned” themselves for the umpteenth time.
Flannery was right: Melbourne does have a shortage of water. It will continue to have a shortage of water supply due to the combination of increased population and industry, and less reliable rainfall. The construction of the desalination plant and the North-South pipeline will alleviate the current and future water deficit.
Yet again, Blair and Bolt have demonstrated their profound dishonesty by cherry-picking quotes to create a story.