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The Forum > Article Comments > When water pours into legal minefields > Comments

When water pours into legal minefields : Comments

By George Williams, published 9/12/2010

Attempts to better manage the Murray-Darling basin continue to unfold against a complex set of legal obligations and century-old constitutional provisions.

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"Once again, how we manage our scarce water resources is being held hostage by our 1901 constitution."

Actually, it sounds like it's being held hostage by the High Court's deliberate misinterpretation of the Constitution for political purposes in the Franklin Dam case so as to extend Commonwealth power into any field on which the feds enter an international agreement, thus in effect subverting the purpose of the Constitution which was to provide for government limited to the listed headings. Not surprisingly there was an orgy of treaty-signing after the Franklin Dam case, thus giving the feds power to legislate on mouse-traps, and toys, and pretty much anything that the Constitution intended they would *not* have the power to legislate on. The environmental movement has been a godsend for the governmental power-freaks and sociopaths because it enables the feds to attract to themselves whatever power they want under cover of the Franklin-Dam expanded external affairs power.

The great furphy underlying the article is that there is such a thing as a "national interest" in how we "manage" "our" water resources. The fact is that each person has an interest in water for drinking, growing food, washing, and for the built and natural environment. This interest is according to subjective values that
a) are constantly changing and
b) are not inter-subjectively comparable.
The challenge is to rationalise the scarcity of resources given those facts.

To consider the problems in terms of a fictional or monolithic national interest, and a fictional consensus, which just happens to be presumptively represented by a central planning bureaucracy, is to uncritically re-import all the utterly failed ideology and methods of central planning generally.

The values that people attach to water are dispersed throughout 22 million people. They are simply not knowable to a central planner, and any attempt to pound and hammer the population into obedience with central diktat can only result in more of the planned economic disorder and environmental destruction for which central planning is notorious, Constitution or no.
Posted by Peter Hume, Thursday, 9 December 2010 4:00:08 PM
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