You are here

Courier Mail praises Bligh Government's 'solving' of population-growth-driven water crisis of its own making

Andrew Bolt of Murdoch's Herald Sun newspaper Melbourne in his article "Melbourne is wrecked and full" of 30 January 2009 pointed out to his readers how population growth deliberately encouraged by the Victorian Government in recent years had placed too great a strain on Melbourne's infrastructure, causing it to fail during the recent heat wave.

Yet, the Brisbane Courier Mail newspaper, also owned by Rupert Murdoch, adamantly refuses to question past and future planned population growth in spite of Bolt's pertinent observations and in spite of an implicit acknowledgement in its editorial "Labor crisis skills seen in water bill" of 3 February 2009, that the recent water crisis was a result of past population growth:

"This was a crisis that was inevitable given the booming population growth of southeast Queensland and the certainty that one day drought would strike."

So, if the Courier Mail acknowledges that the water crisis was 'inevitable', what then were its own reasons for stridently supporting population growth through all those years and why does it continue to do so?

Unsurprisingly this question is neither posed nor answered nor even is the Courier Mail's own support for population growth even acknowledged.

As the editorial points out:

"But for its first eight years in office, Labor virtually ignored the issue (of water)."

And during those first eight years, both 'Smart State' Premier Peter Beattie and his then Deputy Anna Bligh made the water crisis inevitable by deliberately encouraging runaway population growth to suit the Labor Party's land speculation and property developer benefactors.

Yet, in spite of all the damning evidence of their negligence and incompetence the editorial ends up endorsing the overall record of Bligh and Beattie.

To be sure editorial is harshly critical in many ways, but it seems unduly charitable given the overall circumstances:

"But, to give full credit, much of the water grid was delivered on time and on or under budget, despite such embarrassing hiccups as a two-month delay in switching on the $1.2 billion desalination plant because of corrosion problems.

"To summarise, yes, the Government did confront southeast Queensland's water crisis and found a solution, but it could barely have been more expensive or more rushed. Any spare funds and spare borrowing capacity the state might have been able to use to support our economy during the current economic crisis have now been largely used up."

In other words, they made mistakes, and Queenslanders paid dearly for those mistakes, but ultimately, both Beattie and Bligh have shown themselves equal to the task before them.

The editorial continues:

"Consumers, too, have been paying a premium, first by paying for their own water-saving solutions such as tanks, and later through the higher water bills needed to cover the cost of all the new, top-priced infrastructure. Power prices will also be higher because of the high cost of recycled water supplied to power stations."

However, consumers were never consulted by the Queensland Government as to whether they were happy to pay the increased charges made necessary by population growth that it chose to bring about.

Of course, the Courier Mail will continue take care to ensure that, as far as possible, its readers do not draw the link between population growth, on the one hand, and its consequences on the other - higher electricity and water charges, higher council rates, traffic congestion, infrastructure failure, longer hospital waiting lists, housing unaffordability, destruction of natural habitats, further extinction of wildlife, declining quality of life, etc..

And where the cause and effect become too obvious to deny, the Courier Mail will pretend to its readers that population growth is something that is somehow inevitable and not a conscious choice made by governments in the service of land speculators, property developers and others who gain from population growth at the expense of the rest of the community, the natural environment and future generations.

See also: "How the growth lobby threatens Australia's future" of 24 Jan 09, "Courier Mail manipulates reporting of water recycling to demand early election" of 5 Jan 09, "Andrew Bolt: Why add 1.5 million when Victorian infrastructure can't cope with current population?" of 31 Jan 09.

Image icon anna-bligh 3small.jpg5.54 KB


I would have thought tunnel vision and short sightedness were prerequisites now for any sort of pubic office like being premier.

It is ironical that the Victorian public, soft-targets, are being urged to voluntarily cut down their water usage to 155 litres each per day, but at the same time between 1200 and 1500 new residents are coming into Victoria each week! Why should the public cut back, while at the same time our government, contradictorily, deliberately keeps adding more consumers? Why should we cooperate unless we are all pulling our weight to save water? Surely people come here for a better life, and they expect the basic needs of water, housing, transport- things that we are becoming short of!

Finally, a decent idea from the Brisbane council, but, of course, it should not just happen in communal gardens and it will need water for growing gardens, not for growing the city.

The Brisbane City Council is urging residents to grow their own food as part of its community gardens initiative.

It hopes to set up a network of small farms across community facilities, parks and schools.
Environment Committee chairman Peter Matic says it will help the city reduce carbon emissions.

"It's about buying food locally and taking up those opportunities to plant basics in these community gardens so our food doesn't have to travel as far, therefore we reduce our carbon emissions," he said.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist