Social Action Office
Eco-justice Archive


Promoting Eco-justice/Living Sustainably

Eco-justice is one of the three priority areas of the Social Action Office (SAO). Eco-justice advocates policies which foster conservation and enhancement of global resources and ecosystems now and in the future in ways that develop a more just, participatory and sustainable world community. It aims to cultivate greater harmony within the whole Earth community, recognising that human beings must live within the natural world in ways that respect the rights of other species. This is a key aspect of faith.

Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past. The public in general as well as political leaders are concerned about this problem, and experts from a wide range of disciplines are studying its causes. Moreover, a new ecological awareness is beginning to emerge which, rather than being downplayed, ought to be encouraged to develop into concrete programmes and initiatives.

Pope John Paul II, January 1990


Bishops take to river boat for Murray-Darling pastoral statement launch

11 October 2004

Three Catholic Bishops whose Dioceses take in the Murray-Darling Basin will take to the deck of a paddle steamer on the Murray today to launch a pastoral statement on the care and the future of the great river system. Read more ...


Concerns about WATER

Why Water?

The Social Action Office Water Circle is a Brisbane-based group which first gathered in 2003 to become informed on issues concerning the Murray-Darling Basin with the intent of lobbying around these issues. The Social Action Office bases its work on Catholic Social Teaching principles, and the two particular principles to emphasise in relation to the SAO involvement of water issues are upholding the common good and solidarity. The Water Circle members are deeply concerned about water as a resource for all and stand in solidarity with those who live in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The common good asks us as Catholics to encourage public decisions which will protect the gifts of the creation for all to share so that all species (including humans) that rely on water are able to survive in their natural environment.

As the pendulum swings from drought to flooding rains in Queensland, we see once again how our lives are deeply connected to the protection of our living environment. Water is essential to all life – environmentally, socially economically and culturally.

Murray River
(courtesy of Murray-Darling Basin Initiative website)

As we move from our worst drought in 100 years to flooding rains, we need to consider the health and future of our water supplies. We are now seeing the impact of both the drought and flooding, and clearly we need improved management and use of our freshwater.

Salinity, the impact on agriculture and food production, and rural and regional survival and development, are just some of the many issues arising out of the need to protect this essential resource. These issues are now presenting key challenges for our public decision-makers at all levels of government.

What are the water issues in Queensland?

The following points are some of the most important for water management in Queensland and in particular for the Murray-Darling Basin.

Common Good: We all rely on water – it is the source of all living things. Farmers, business people, city dwellers in Brisbane, those living in rural and regional Queensland, plants, animals and birds, indigenous Australians, all need water to survive. What is important is that we need to protect water for all.

Our policies need to recognise this underlying principle. We need to develop a position which recognises that our values are shared although our position on water may be different. If water and its management are not based on a cooperative consciousness, then we all will be affected. We need to work together for the sake of our future and the common good. We all need to participate in public decisions to ensure this takes place.

Cross Boundary Management: Rivers and other natural flows of water do not stop at state or local government boundaries or property boundaries. We need to ensure that our policies are developed with this in mind. Water requires policy which is developed across state borders, and across disciplines of work, e.g. science, economics, and the environment. The Queensland government needs to be committed to developing process and practice to support this.

Water as Natural Resource not a commodity for gain or profit: There is increasing pressure when a resource is vulnerable to put a high price on its head. There is also increasing pressure to privatise water and let a market-driven approach decide how much it is worth and who can afford to buy it. It is driven by a belief that if you pay for something you will value it more. High value does not come from money alone. High value comes from what it provides in life-sustaining good for all. Queenslanders need to be aware of this pressure to privatise drinking and irrigation water and the possible consequential impacts of this on local communities.

Murray-Darling Basin
(courtesy of Murray-Darling Basin Initiative website)

What needs to be done?

For the sake of ALL …
Ask questions of our politicians …

Contact Members of Parliament and talk to them about supporting the following policy choices for water management in Queensland:

  • Water is seen as a natural resource to be shared, not a commodity for profit and gain;
  • Improved cross boundary management including across local and state boundaries, and commitment to the National Water Initiative;
  • Ongoing implementation of integrated catchment management and the Water Quality and Salinity Action Plan in Queensland;
  • The Natural Resource Ministerial Council at a state and federal level;
  • Water is for all and therefore should be excluded from threats of privatisation, e.g. Queensland Competition Policy and any trade agreements;
  • Protection of the Murray-Darling Basin, particularly in the Condamine and Upper Balonne Catchments.


Click here for a Water for Life Reflection

Click here for Your Response to the Water for Life Reflection

Click here for the 2nd Common Wealth for the Common Good Address
delivered by Christine Milne: Reclaiming the Common Wealth for the Common Good: The Moral Challenges of Shaping a Sustainable Earth Community

Click here for Mary Tinney's response to The Moral Challenges of Shaping a Sustainable Earth Community


Eco-justice Links


Click here for more in the Eco-justice Archive
(includes information on the 2003 International Year of FreshWater,
the 2003 Climate Change Campaign and Kyoto Protocol)


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