Senate debates

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


World Plumbing Day

7:13 pm

Photo of Dean SmithDean Smith (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

In my brief contribution this evening, I would like to note an important date that will occur next week but is, perhaps, not at the forefront of public awareness. On Tuesday, 11 March, those involved in the plumbing industry here in Australia and around the globe will mark World Plumbing Day. Instituted by the World Plumbing Council in 2010, the day is a global effort to highlight the vital contribution those in the plumbing industry around the world make to the ongoing health and welfare of our modern society. Despite our own country's regular experiences with drought over many decades, it is fair to say that many Australians, particularly those living in metropolitan areas, take for granted the fact that they will always enjoy a safe, reliable supply of potable water. We get up, we turn on the tap and we can drink the water that comes out of it—or we can shower in it or use it for food preparation. It is not something that most of us give a second thought to in our day-to-day lives, but the fact is that the reliability and safety of our water supply has not just happened by itself. It is thanks, in large part, to the expertise and dedication of Australia's plumbing professionals who, through their ingenuity and the continued use of improved technology, are ensuring Australians continue to enjoy a sustainable water supply.

The fact is that water is a precious commodity and our supplies of it are not as bountiful as some assume. While it is true that water covers around 70 per cent of the earth's surface, only 2.5 per cent of that is fresh water, and only 0.77 per cent is easily available potable water.

The shortage in supply of potable water is not some far-off problem that we can or should put on the backburner. The United Nations has estimated that around one billion people around the world—that is, one in every six people—are, at this very moment, struggling with the problem of fresh water scarcity. The World Health Organization estimates that some 2.6 billion people the world over do not have access to what we would consider to be adequate sanitation, and 3.1 million children die each year from diseases attributable to an inadequate or poor-quality water supply. Plainly, this is not a minor problem.

A lack of fresh water is a significant contributing factor to a range of other problems experienced in some of the world's poorest regions—among others, hunger, disease occurring through poor hygiene and poor sanitation, and a lack of educational opportunities. There is a high correlation between access to reliable supplies of fresh water and economic prosperity—and, hence, political stability. Reliable water supplies can only be ensured by the installation and ongoing maintenance of quality plumbing systems maintained by qualified and skilled plumbing professionals.

Next Tuesday's World Plumbing Day will serve as a fitting opportunity to recognise the skills and dedication of the world's plumbing professionals, the contribution they make to the ongoing health and welfare of all Australians and the progress that the plumbing industry is making in the ongoing effort to improve living and sanitation conditions in some of the world's poorest communities.

I am delighted that Western Australia's own Stuart Henry, a former member for Hasluck in this parliament, who also served as chairman of the World Plumbing Council, continues to play an active role in encouraging greater recognition of the invaluable work the plumbing industry does here in Australia and around the world. I congratulate the World Plumbing Council on its initiative and wish all those attending events next Tuesday to celebrate World Plumbing Day the best for an enjoyable day.


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