Dear members of parliament and senators
We would like to draw your attention to a gaping hole in your environmental policies and we're not talking about climate change. There is one immediate issue facing us: 80 per cent of ocean plastic pollution comes from land-based sources and it flows there via urban stormwater runoff. Urban stormwater runoff also contains harmful levels of other less visible (but extremely damaging) pollutants, such as suspended solids, heavy metals, nutrients and bacteria.
The evidence is irrefutable. The technologies and legislation already exist to solve the problem. However, there is a massive divide between what we should be doing and what we are doing.
I ask you: if your tap was running and flooding your kitchen, what would you do first? Grab a mop and bucket or turn off the tap? You would turn the tap off, right? Let's make it a legal requirement for private and public sectors to stop the flow of pollution to the ocean.
I acknowledge that our business will benefit from this initiative. However, so too will thousands of Australian businesses across multiple sectors - as will all Australians via more jobs and healthy oceans.
With the ocean providing over half the oxygen we breathe and being a major source of food for the world's population, there is a critical need for action and we all have the ability to make change.
Each year, at least eight million tonnes of plastics flow into the ocean - which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050
Stormwater is recognised as the key source of pollution in our urban waterways and the vast majority of marine debris entering Australian waters is land-based and generated locally,
Every time it rains, stormwater runoff from most urban areas within Australia flows to our waterways and oceans without any stormwater treatment to remove pollutants (including plastics). Where stormwater treatment assets are present to capture pollutants, they seldom receive appropriate maintenance, meaning captured pollutants aren't removed - often making the assets completely ineffective.
The degradation of our waterways and oceans is a public health risk and has a direct impact to our economy
A recent national survey found that the number one concern for Australians when it comes to population growth is marine and waterway health - rated higher than traffic congestion, competition for jobs and housing density
The solutions to mitigate the aforementioned problems are available and cost-effective. However, the future cost to rectify these problems and implement appropriate solutions will only increase unless urgent action is undertaken now.
Solutions exist. We need your help to implement them.
If we kill the oceans, we kill ourselves.
Keep the pressure on
I applaud the Leader's water campaign commenced this week and despite the recent raids and attacks on the media this is a vitally important issue raised by the media that needs to be addressed by the government. We all know that we didn't just slip into drought yesterday, but remember that rural Nat MP's didn't push the alarm button for drought until late July 2018.
As with many belated decisions of the NSW Government that impact rural NSW they want to drag the process of a water study right out, I believe in the expectation that rains will fall and difficult and expensive decisions won't have to be made earlier or at all.
I received some social media criticism over my comments published earlier in the week about this matter, however, all I have said is that a water study conducted by the government that will not be finalised until late 2020 is unacceptable.
The findings probably won't be published until sometime in 2021 which will be two years into the Coalition's third term and a decade since their initial election. As blokes who think they understand the challenges of living in rural NSW, I would have thought the Nats would be across this issue, but quite simply they are not.
Sadly I believe bigger customers and often party donors elsewhere have more power. I fear that the privatisation of water infrastructure is on the agenda as well and if you think your electricity bill is expensive wait until the coalition parties sell our water assets as well. Your local MP will be sending you off to Vinnies or the Salvos to pick up a supply of drinking water.
The Peel Valley needs a larger slice of the Chaffey Dam pie. I would prefer that it simply becomes a dedicated water supply dam for the Peel Valley and Tamworth City if we had representatives willing to cross the floor we'd probably get closer to that outcome.
It worries me that we actually don't really have a democracy. We have one-party rule by an ostensibly city-centric party that has fully vertically integrated itself into every tier of government and some prominent local businesses, rigidly controlling development and growth to the detriment of the prosperity of our regions. Sadly its a real game of mates they are playing with rural people's lives and it just isn't good enough.
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