By Luke Voogt
Barwon Water’s promotion of diets high in “vegetable protein” after joining a global environmental group has angered farmers and a community watchdog.
Ratepayers Geelong’s Andrew Senia slammed the water authority and City Hall, which has also embraced Bioregional’s One Planet Living principles.
“I don’t think it’s for them to philosophise about this,” he said.
“It’s absolutely clear that water authorities and council should not get into anything that’s not their core business.”
Mr Senia’s criticism followed anger at vegan protests across Australia on Monday, including at a Corio abattoir, for their impacts on emergency services and livelihoods.
Ratepayers should be similarly annoyed at local authorities signing up to organisations promoting certain ideological agendas, he said.
“Like most people, I would not like to be dictated to about what I’m supposed to eat or drink.
As part of a One Planet action plan for its residential development at Torquay, Barwon Water promotes itself as Australia’s first water corporation to “embrace” the principles.
Barwon Water also aimed to increase awareness of “vegetable-based diets” at the estate as part of the action plan.
Upper Gellibrand farmer Bernie Franke attacked Barwon Water’s “embracing“ of the principles including promoting “sustainable humane farming and healthy diets high in local, seasonal organic food and vegetable protein”.
“It seems as if our non-elected public water authority is officially committed to promoting something that sounds a lot like veganism,“ he said.
Mr Franke questioned “our water authority (telling) us what we should put into our mouths”.
“What’s next? The refusal to supply butcher shops with water?
“Perhaps Barwon Water should get the basic business of potable water and sewerage sorted out and leave the social engineering to our democratically-elected representatives.”
Mr Franke accused Barwon Water of hypocrisy because one of its One Plant principles promoted protecting local water resources.
In 2016 Barwon Water admitted its groundwater pumping at Barwon Downs had caused environmental damage.
Geelong’s council has also signed up to the 10 principles, covering a range of topics from “zero waste” to sustainable transport.
Council promotes the principles on its website but omits any mention of “vegetable protein”.
Barwon Water had applied the principles to its estate in a local context, its environmental manager Kate Sullivan said.
“It highlights how we will embrace innovation to increase quality of life whilst addressing environmental challenges.
“How residents ultimately live within Salt Torquay will align with their own values.“
London environmental entrepreneurs Sue Riddlestone and Pooran Desai founded Bioregional as a charity and social enterprise in 1994 to develop sustainable ways of living.