Water Theft Maleficence in Australia
The United Nations has repeatedly identified that freshwater security is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, and that water theft is a global problem exacerbating human conflict, denying human rights and accelerating environmental despoliation (UN 2019; UN Water 2020). Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent where water security is seriously threatened and constantly monitored by federal, state and local authorities. The devastating 2019-2020 bushfires across Australia serve as a stark reminder of the nation’s vulnerabilities to drought and the imperatives of water security and sustainability. Whilst some threats are undoubtedly climate induced, it is widely reported the ‘theft’ of water is playing an increasingly significant role in compromising Australia’s water security. This article provides a critical overview of the contemporary significance of water theft and its governance. It interrogates official documents of government inquiries, examines court proceedings, and provides a green criminological perspective on future policy, practice and prevention.
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