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Video clip synopsis – With our harsh Australian climate subject to drought, artesian water and ground water is a resource that needs regulation.
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 0min 56sec
Tags - Australian landscape, drought, emerging technologies, Learning Journey Water, natural resources, preservation, resources, sustainability, water, see all tags


Water Regulation

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About the Video Clip


Talkback Classroom is a forum program run by the Education section of the National Museum of Australia. Each year a series of forums are held. At each forum a panel of three secondary students, selected from schools Australia-wide, interview a leading decision-maker on an important current matter. The panel participate in a ‘learning journey’ to explore the matter and prepare for the forum. This involves researching related topics and interviewing relevant people in the community. Panellists also develop interview techniques in workshops at Parliament House and the National Museum of Australia. The interviews are then recorded in the Museum’s Studio in front of a live student audience.

This clip comes from the 2007 learning journey for the ‘Water Crisis’ forum. The guest interviewed in the forum was the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, former Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. The panellists were QLD Year 11 students Jane Cairns and Oscar Schlamowitz from Brisbane State High School and Emma Buckley-Lennox from Indooroopilly State High School. The learning journey involved students visiting Jondaryan in Queensland and interviewing the Mayor of Jondaryan Shire, Peter Taylor and Ian McHugh, Director of Planning and Development at Jondaryan Shire Council. The students also interviewed Dianne Thorley the Mayor of Toowoomba. Whilst in Brisbane, the panellists met with Larissa Waters, member of the Queensland Greens, The Hon. Rod Welford MP, QLD minister for Education, Training and the Arts, Dr Brian Crozier, curator Queensland Museum and John Cherry, president of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation.

Background Information


Australia has a history of drought and variable rainfall; some parts of the country are currently experiencing a major water crisis. This, coupled with global climate change and drought, presents a serious challenge to the Australian people and government. Southern areas of Australia are running out of fresh water supplies. Increases in population, drought-induced crop failures and salinity are all contributing to the water crisis in Australia. Water resources, such as river systems, underground aquifers and water storage facilities (from dams to water tanks) have historically been managed by the state governments in Australia, despite the fact that many of these resources are used by more than one state. The uncoordinated approach of the states to water management has resulted in many unhealthy river systems, for example the Murray-Darling river system. The poor health of this system is due to water users upstream being allocated more water entitlements than is being replaced through rainfall and replenishment from underground water sources. As well as the poor health of many river systems and the shrinking levels in water storage facilities, the increasing population in Australia is placing pressure on water availability. South-eastern Queensland and particularly the town of Toowoomba is a prime example of an area that is experiencing problems with water supply. This situation is forcing the community to weigh up options: desalination, recycling water or piping in water from other areas are some of the possible solutions.

Classroom Activities


Before you watch

Research the Great Artesian Basin. Using a variety of resources, find out the following:

  1. The size of the Basin – its length, width, average depth and how many square kilometres of land are above it.
  2. The main inflow and outflow points for the water in the Basin.
  3. The types of rock formations that form the layers of the Basin and how they function as water collection, storage, filtering and transport systems.
  4. How access to the water in the Basin is gained.
  5. The uses of the water in the Basin.
  6. The threats to the Basin and its water.

While you watch

What does Peter Taylor, mayor of Jondaryan Shire Council in Queensland, say about the quality of ground water versus artesian bore water? Use what he says as the basis for an investigation into variations in quality between these types of water.

Focus on the points of view of Larissa Waters (Queensland Greens representative), John Cherry (president Queensland Farmers’ Federation) and Peter Taylor. What are the main differences in them? What are the similarities? In a class discussion later on, examine these points of view and look for the reasons behind the differences and similarities.

After you watch

The topic of water regulation is complex, with so much demand from all manner of water users. Permits are required to drill bores in places such as Jondaryan Shire in Queensland. Working in groups, try to identify all of the water usages in Australia. Once they are identified, each group is to decide on a ranking system that will determine which usage gets the most water and which gets the least. Use whatever criteria the group decides; avoid using the same criteria as other groups.

Once each group has drawn up its ranked list, compare the lists as a whole class. How do the rankings compare? What are the major differences and similarities? Which usages were consistently placed high or low in the lists? Where groups have very different rankings, have these groups justify the criteria they used.

Choose one water usage category. Have two class members take on the roles of a lobbyist from the category and local/state/federal government water allocation department senior secretary. The lobbyist is seeking to increase the water allocation for the category and has to persuade the allocation senior secretary that there’s a case for this. Try swapping roles in this role play or having other class members try the roles. After the role play, discuss the challenges faced by water usage lobbyists and government water allocation officials.

Further Resources


National Museum of Australia’s Talkback Classroom website

CSIRO: Water in Australia