Monday, 9th March, 2020
By Michael Murphy
The Anglican and Catholic churches have weighed into the water debate, declaring the trading of water for personal gain as “immoral”.
The two bishops covering the Far West released a joint statement yesterday expressing their “deep concern” for local communities, particularly Indigenous Australians who are the “hardest hit by water shortages and dying rivers”.
Catholic Bishop Columba Macbeth Green and Anglican Bishop Donald Kirk acknowledged the “spiritual, moral and ethical dimensions that impact Aboriginal Communities of the river lands”.
They also recognised the struggling primary producers and river townships dependent on water from the river.
“We believe the trading of water for personal economic gain is immoral,” they said.
“Water is a limited resource to be shared for everyone and not controlled by large multinational businesses.”
Bishop Kirk, who has held the top job in the Riverina Diocese for eight months, visited Broken Hill at the weekend to conduct services for Anglican parishioners.
The Right Reverend told the BDT it was not unusual for the Anglican and Catholic churches to work together on issues that impact their communities.
Both bishops had separately advocated about water issues, so the joint statement was a natural progression.
Bishop Kirk made an address to an Anglican synod, an assembly of church leaders and the broader community in October last year.
“I saw that there was this great sense in which we were totally commodifying water, and it was to the detriment of the well-being of people,” he said after a service at St James Church yesterday.
“It should be seen as a common resource for the good of humanity.”
Around the same time as Bishop Kirk’s address, Bishop Columba made similar comments and released a YouTube video about the water issue.
“We found a way to get together and have a conversation about it, and this led to this joint statement,” Bishop Kirk said.
He said compassion was missing in a free-market economy left to its own devices.
“There are serious issues in terms of Australian politics in general,” he said.
“Whichever side of politics, and there’s more than two, we think is most right or wrong, it doesn’t matter.
“They all suffer from the same delusion, that it’s just about doing whatever they can to get re-elected.
“They should have a moral conscience for the good of the nation.”