LAST week delivered one of the saddest ironies in Australian political history. A Federal Government that has spent the better part of a decade being sceptical of the growing accumulation of scientific evidence of climate change has had to tell people to be prepared for one of the direst consequences predicted by that science: that the second driest continent on Earth faces a year without sufficient water to meet all its needs, and that there is no way of predicting when this situation might be alleviated.
It has had to tell people to be prepared for great losses in our national economy, with reduced exports and greater need for imports, and to expect an impact upon the cost of living for ordinary households as the price of foodstuffs rises to unprecedented levels. This from a Government that has sold itself to voters on its supposedly superior credentials in economic management.
And John Howard still just plays politics. His dire announcement is perceived, by many, to be primarily aimed at forcing Victoria to end its resistance to a handover of powers to Canberra — under a "back of the napkin" water plan that has provided no details and appears to reward other states (such as Queensland and NSW) for decades of water mismanagement, compared with the relatively more responsible administration at Spring Street.
We might all be praying for rain. Howard is praying for votes. His administration does not deserve another chance after we, ordinary Australians, have been made to endure the severe consequences of previous years of federal neglect over environmental matters that crucially impact upon the common good.
This year, we might have hardly any local vegetables or fruit in our diets: next year we might simply have no water to drink. Many saw this coming, and we must not reward a Government that consistently failed to heed earlier warnings because of the "economic rationalist" blinkers all its ministers were directed to wear by its leader. We need a government we can trust to act in a more timely fashion to a better set of national priorities than the usual school of "economic rationalists" have.
Author: Peter Kartsounis, Footscray