Speech To Aussies Sustaining Australia

Good evening

I acknowledge that this is aboriginal land and I hope that the gathering here can help to forward reconciliation by caring for this land as well as the aboriginal people did.

I’m Jerry and my partner, Jeff, and I retrofitted an elderly queenslander so that it harvests solar energy and rainwater and recycles wastewater. Apart from the technology, which cost far less than a new 4WD I’ve also converted the garden to organic production – and make no mistake growing your own food is one of the best ways to radically reduce your ecological footprint, cutting out fertilizers, processing, irradiation, fumigation, packaging, transport, refrigeration and distribution. You can see what we’ve done at http://www.bellis.info.

I acknowledge the politicians here. It’s a shame that major party Australian politicians have forgotten what leadership is, they seem content to become little more than accountants, Public Relations flacks and crisis managers.

It’s hard for the current bunch of lawyers, and accountants infesting our parliaments to understand this but there are some things more important than massaging the budget figures so they look good to your industry and stock market paymasters.

But sometimes, just sometimes, reality intrudes to the point where even politicians have to tear themselves away from the comforting abstractions that so occupy them and begin to look at the world as it actually is.

This is such a time. And look at the panic you’re in, scurrying around blaming each other, flinging up one asinine idea after another.
More dams! you cry – but the ones we’ve got aren’t filling.
Desalination! – uses enough power to run a suburb and belches carbon dioxide by the megatonne.
Water grids -just the same.

Mr Turnbull I hope that your crisis meeting tomorrow is fruitful, I really do. But I’m terribly afraid that you will not really be discussing water security, I’m terribly afraid that what you will really be discussing is economics. How you and the states can juggle things so that we can still have abstract ‘economic growth’ whilst holding things together through this drought.

I understand your panic Mr Turnbull, for the last two decades this country has been run by and for “The Market”, but I have news for you, the weather doesn’t read the stock market report. I have yet to see a cyclone leafing through a copy of the Financial Review and do you know what Mr Turnbull? The feeling is entirely mutual “The Market” only looks to the sky when farm profits drop or banana crops are wiped out. Mr Turnbull, your crystal ball has failed you, so of course your panicking

The markets didn’t warn you about this water crisis, Alan Wood didn’t. Bjorn Lomborg didn’t Treasury didn’t, the Institute of Public Affairs didn’t. They can’t because they aren’t concerned with objective reality just that beautiful abstraction “the economy”.

Who did warn of this crisis? The scientists and the conservationists did, The Australian Conservation Foundation did, Queensland Conservation did. The Nature Conservation Council of NSW did. Michael Mobbs created his sustainable house in the middle of Sydney a decade ago – he did!

And we’re warning you again now. This time try listening to the scientists and the conservationists. Try listening to the people who actually got it right!

Mr Turnbull, we need results from your meeting tomorrow. We don’t need a “memorandum of understanding”; we don’t need “greater economic cooperation between the states” and we don’t need a string of meaningless figures with lots of zeros.

What we need Mr Turnbull is a rainwater tank on every building in Australia, what we need is to recycle the water that we do use. Do that and you will have bought this nation a breathing space – no more than that – while we begin, ten years too late, to deal with the reality of Climate Change.

Jerry Coleby-Williams
6/11/2006