I was recently talking with Toby Miller, who is an Honorary Professor in the Centre in which I am based, and it came out that in California, and presumably in the US as a whole—the most hyper-capitalist nation on the planet—the issue of the privatisation of water is a taboo topic. As Toby said, “You can’t even think it.”
This seemed incredible until Toby explained that water in the US is seen in terms of a natural right, rather than a resource. When Americans are told that in Britain and other countries the water is owned by private companies, they shake their heads in bewilderment. As they should.
I wonder what it would take for water in Australia to be embedded within a discourse of rights, rather than a discourse of resources? Quite a bit, I assume, given the private investment in infrastructure, and the profitable market for trading in irrigation licences.
Still, it’s nice to dream.