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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 13806

Ms LEY (Farrer) (20:21): I would like to speak briefly against the government's amendments to this bill, and I appreciate the procedural difficulties but this is extremely important. Clearly, the process has been hijacked, Minister, by the Greens again. First, we had a committee that released a report that accepted the words 'up to 450 gigalitres'. Then we had the Greens in the Senate move amendments and motions to say that they wanted to take out the words 'up to', and say '450 gigalitres'. Then we have had you, Minister, accept that with no rational explanation. We have had the member for New England go against his own report, that apparently was only tabled today. I look forward to his explanation, because the people in my electorate trusted him. They thought he was a good guy. They were wrong.

We have got this tiny figleaf behind which the minister is hiding—notes to part of his amendments that says that the Commonwealth will not conduct open tender rounds that are available to all water access entitlement holders—a figleaf, Minister. If you believe this, put it in the subclause of the legislation. Do not have it sitting there like something you can wriggle out of later. We have come a long way on this side of the House to accept a measure that says 'up to 450 gigalitres', and you have taken it out.

And what I particularly object to is that this minister at the Press Club cited Bernie Roebuck, principal of the Finley High School. You have no idea, Minister, of the pain that your legislation is causing the community of Finley. You have not sat in the hall of the Finley High School and looked at the expressions on the faces of all the kids. You have not seen the despair of their parents. But you had the nerve to mention the Finley High School and Bernie Roebuck as if somehow that excused the things that you are doing to the communities that I represent.

The SPEAKER: The member for Farrer should not use the word 'you'.

Ms LEY: I very strenuously disagree with your amendments and I am delighted that on this side of the House, when in government, will be able to introduce a cap on buyback that effectively negates the nonsense that you are putting forward in your amendments. As I said, we came a long way to accept the bill. The minister knows how difficult that was. The cap on buyback that the coalition will introduce in government will mean that anything above 1,500 gigalitres will have to be realised by efficiencies. That at least will mean that the destructive crippling buybacks that have affected the communities of Farrer so very badly will not continue under a coalition government.

It will mean proper investigations—and I make this point too—through a constraints management strategy to manage areas permanently under flood—where red gums are dying because they have got their roots in water nine months of the year, where areas that have previously been town beaches, camping areas and areas for general amenity are just simply at a low-level flood line—and it would actually carry out a proper socioeconomic analysis. The coalition understands the need for that. If the minister accepts that these things are possible, then those socioeconomic analyses and the proper constraints management and the dollars to do that should have been contained in this legislation and his remarks.