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Lobbyists welcome cross border water agreement

The Catholic group PolMin has described Friday's National Water Initiative announcement by the Council of Australian Governments as "an important step in developing cross jurisdictional, cross party political and cross community position on water".

The $500 million deal will make farmers, the Federal Government, and most state governments responsible for improvement of water flows. Farmers and irrigators have won the right to treat water much like land and other tangible assets.

PolMin Coordinator Victoria Kearney said: "The Agreement strengthens the notion that partnership and cooperation are essential to achieve positive outcomes on the management of water for the common good including rural and urban communities, environmentalists and farming families alike."

Ms Kearney described the agreement as a strong symbolic and policy statement on leadership and community cooperation.

She said that while PolMin welcomes the cross jurisdictional Agreement and Federal planning framework now in place, the community "should remain mindful of hidden agendas and there is a concern that such a Commission may become a vehicle for international trade pressures on investments in water and water infrastructure."

COAG also agreed to establish a National Water Commission (NWC) which will report to COAG.  It will assess progress in implementing the NWI and advise on actions required to better realise the objectives of the Agreement. The Commission will also undertake the 2005 assessment of progress achieved implementing water reform commitments under the National Competition Policy.

Cross Border Agreement to protect water (Australian Political Ministry Network 28/6/04)

Council of Australian Governments (COAG) | National Water Initiative
A historic deal on water (The Age 29/6/04)
River receives funds (Bendigo Advertiser 29/6/04)
Drought-Hit Australia Plans to Save Ailing Rivers (Planet Ark 29/6/04)
Govts reach deal on water resources (ABC 26/6/04)
Water deal a 'crock', say Greens (Sydney Morning Herald 26/6/04)
Debate flows over national water plan (ABC Canberra 26/6/04)
Property rights on water for farmers (The Weekend Australian 26/6/04)
Activists call attention to the misuse of water and need for conservation (CathNews 22/6/04)
Pope's speech reflects concern over privatisation of water (CathNews 5/3/04)
Conferência Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil | Fraternidade e Água: Água, Fonte de Vida
Religious urge Free Trade water exclusion (CathNews 2/12/04)
Catholic lobbyist says water reform 'beyond politics' (CathNews 11/8/03)
A Water Ethic to Renew the Earth (National Catholic Rural Life Conference USA)

Australian Political Ministry Network (POLMIN)
Catchment logging raises water woes, says church (The Age 28/6/04)
Forestry Report (Uniting Church in Australia, Justice and International Mission)

29 Jun 2004