Many primary producers rely on water from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) for their livestock and domestic water supplies. Many residents of Western Queensland towns also rely on water from the GAB for their house and garden supplies. However, the future of this iconic Basin which is one of the world’s largest underground water resources is under threat.

In spite of more than $300mill of taxpayers and landholders money being spent on the capping and piping of free flowing bores – the GAB is still in decline. The Federal Government’s Independent Expert Scientific Committee indicates the GAB is not in a “steady state” and is a declining resource. Locally in the Surat sub basin, the CSG industry will drain a further 65,000 Mega litres annually for the next 50 years effectively doubling the existing take of all other GAB users. The resource sector has the unsustainable privilege of “unlimited take” while all other users are regulated in some form. The Basin Sustainability Alliance (BSA) strongly disagrees with this position.

The Queensland Government is about to release a new “Draft Water Plan” – supposedly for the future sustainable management of the GAB. It will be fascinating to see how the Queensland Government can conjure up a sustainable plan while allowing “unlimited take” by the resource sector,  following the Queensland Government passing legislation to extend “statutory underground water rights” to all miners. These new laws come into play on 6th December.

It is clear that the Palaszczuk Government like previous Queensland Governments, has the firm belief that the GAB is akin to Norman Lindsay’s “magic pudding” and that “ unlimited take “  from it’s aquifers can occur with endless instant replenishment . From Hansard’s record of the debate on this legislation, it is also clear the:

Nicholls/Frecklington LNP Opposition suffer from the same delusion and have no understanding whatsoever about Ecologically Sustainable Development principles – they still firmly believe that the “magic pudding will provide” and that you can just keep taking water out of the system if there is an ongoing demand from development proponents – this is very scary thinking indeed!!!!

Out of real concern for future generations water security, the BSA is considering establishing the  “Friends of the GAB Foundation” to educate the public and politicians in how to see through and reject unsustainable development proposals by future” water thieves “.

Lee Mc Nicholl Chair Basin Sustainability Alliance 30th November 2016