For those with an idle interest, I’ve put Gary Nairn’s response to my water piece over the fold
John Quiggin’s “Water dilemma flows on” (Opinion, July 7) wrongly claims that the Prime Minister has “set his face firmly against the idea” of national markets in water.
In 2004 the Howard government led the development of the national water initiative, a key component of which commits states and territories to establish water market and trading arrangements within and between jurisdictions.
This government is not backing away from opening up trade and the possible further integration of rural and urban water markets, but it does recognise that achieving the right balance between economic benefits and the environmental and social impact of water moving out of irrigation areas is central to achieving an effective, interstate water trading system. The philosophy underpinning the management of our water ought to be: what have we got, how are we using it and can we use it better?
Quiggin states that proposals to transfer water from irrigation use to cities, such as the suggested pipeline from the Murrumbidgee to Sydney, need careful evaluation. I agree.
As we move to open up water trading I would like to see far more done to reform the efficiency of the urban water sector before any major inroads are made towards the purchase of irrigation water to meet urban demands.
Gary Nairn, MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister,