For the last ten years public discourse in Australia has been focussed in large measure on what to do about water security.
In June 2007 Media Monitors put out a press release about this debate.
Watching the continuing debate in 2008 it is hard to see any significant progress made in either the level of debate or policy solutions offered.
It appears that the "drought of action" remains.
The Water Debate in Australia –
A Drought of Action; A Flood of Politics, Vested Interests and Nimbyism----
The analysis concluded that the Australian public is likely to be confused by the current debate as it is presenting dire warnings of a chronic water shortage, but little by way of agreed practical solutions to deal with the problem.
Among a number of key findings, the research found that the majority of discussion about water aired in the media continues to be in relation to the problem, rather than solutions.---
Furthermore, it reported that all solutions presented were being deadlocked in claim and counter-claim. "While some media have devoted space and time to presenting the public with simply explained factual and scientific information on water usage, storage and management, the vast majority of debate and discussion is contradictory claims and counter-claims by various Federal and State politicians,environmentalists, farmers’ groups and other vested interests such as landholders affected by proposed dams or residents potentially affected by infrastructure projects."----
The analysis, undertaken by the research unit of Media Monitors, reviewed almost 82,000 news reports, features articles, columns, letters to the editor and radio and TV program segments discussing water between 1 January and 30 April 2007 and conducted in-depth content analysis on a sample of 1,200 media articles in national and major metropolitan newspapers. The analysis was undertaken independently by Media Monitors with no paying client or sponsor of the research. Media discussion of water provided a total of 3.5 billion ‘Opportunities to See’, according to the Media Monitors study (the number of articles multiplied by the circulation of each media). "It is unlikely that any adult or child over the age of reason in Australia is unaware that there is a water crisis," the research concluded.
"What is less clear, however, are the most effective solutions to address Australia’s water shortage," it found. The analysis warned that there is very limited objective information and education for the public to make informed decisions.----
The report warned that there is a danger that when the drought breaks and dams fill, many Australians will believe the water issue has been resolved, as much discussion has focussed on drought, a natural disaster, as the cause of drying dams and river systems rather than fundamental endemic and systemic problems requiring a cohesive and coordinated national water management strategy.
Full Media Monitors 2007 Carma Research Report here.
This week's graph of domestic media mentions.