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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3462


Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (20:45): I compliment both of my previous parliamentary colleagues on the comments and points that they have made in addressing this motion. I rise to acknowledge the importance of World Plumbing Day. When I announced on my Twitter account that I was going to be speaking about this in the coming weeks I was met with some mixed responses to this news. Most people were positive, which was tremendous, but a few were not. One person in particular criticised the decision to speak on this matter and said it was trivial and a waste of parliament's time.

When you consider that water is a precious commodity, which covers 70 per cent of the earth's surface but only 2.5 per cent is fresh water and only 0.77 per cent is easily available as potable water, a civilised society or one that is developing cannot survive and function effectively without adequate plumbing infrastructure. Plumbing systems allow people to live together in larger communities as fresh water is easily pushed into a community, used and then waste is extracted and removed. Little consideration used to be given to the community downstream. We take this for granted every single day when we turn on the tap, have a shower, clean our house or use sanitation services. In Australia, our children for the most part are able to grow and enjoy early childhood, go to school and become healthy. That pathway is due to our technological advancement in the areas of sanitation, waste disposal and access to clean drinking water.

This does not happen by accident. It requires a highly trained plumbing sector that works with all levels of government, industry and community to ensure that adequate plumbing facilities are in place. There are many different types of plumbers: highly skilled tradespeople, contractors to install pipes and fixtures, engineers to design the projects to ensure correct water pressure and volume flow and inspectors to make sure it is done correctly. This also requires a level of professional support in skilling and training people. I was interested in comments by my previous colleague, making reference to the initiatives that are being undertaken to ensure that these skills are not lost but are perpetuated in order to provide these opportunities to the Australian community and, much more broadly, outside with the proximity of our near neighbours.

I have been working closely on a range of issues with training providers at schools in my electorate. Plumbing is one of the areas that we have in discussion, along with its opportunities. If we lose this knowledge, or the capacity to deliver quality plumbing infrastructure in this country, productivity and even people's lives could be at risk. It is so serious that, once again, I thank the member for Flinders for bringing on this private member's motion. A significant part of the motion acknowledges the World Plumbing Council and its role in promoting the importance of plumbing in developing countries, where it helps save lives. I believe this is a critical part of the aid programs that Australia provides and it is often forgotten in the discourse about the developing world.

According to the World Health Organisation, 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe water supplies, 2.6 billion do not have access to improved sanitation and 3.1 million children die each year from water-related diseases. So the whole concept of plumbing and potable water that is fresh and provides a safe drinking source is extremely important. Even though plumbing is a trade, I will call it a profession because of the range of skills required for the delivery of water at all points. When I was in Indonesia for the Australia-Indonesia Dialogue, I was informed that 25 per cent of a family's income was geared towards buying bottled water because their source of fresh water was not adequate to enable safe drinking or for their health and wellbeing.

I am pleased to have the opportunity of acknowledging World Plumbers Day. I acknowledge all of those who are associated with that work and with the contribution they make to a healthy society, which we take for granted, and their contribution to the AusAID program and to neighbours immediately to the north of us and, more recently, Africa and other countries where Australia plays a significant role.