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
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
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
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.
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.
What needs to be done?
For the sake of
Ask questions of our politicians …
Contact Members of Parliament and talk to them about supporting
the following policy choices for water management in Queensland: