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Thursday, 21 June 2012
Page: 7566

Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (11:35): I thank the members who are here in the chamber for allowing me to say a few words on the National Water Commission Amendment Bill 2012, even though I was not on the list. It is an extremely important bill. The National Water Commission has oversight of our river system, and it plays a very important role. We see very different state variants around the country when we discuss water and our river systems. We know that the National Water Commission plays a role in bringing everyone together and ensuring that we progress water reform here in this country. For South Australia this is a very important issue. It is extremely important as we are at the bottom of the river system and the basins. During the drought a few years ago we saw the enormous pressure that our river system was put under. We heard the member for Makin talk about that tipping point. So this is important stuff that we are talking about here, especially for South Australia.

We recently saw the Murray Darling draft report that was released by the minister. I must congratulate him for overseeing that particular report. It is a very important report and something that needs to be moved forward to ensure that we come up with a system that looks after the future of the river and ensures the longevity of the river for many years. I cannot stress too much how important it is. We do not want to go through what we saw a few years ago ever again. For many years, for whatever reason, we have not looked after our river systems and we need to put a plan in place that will be the stepping stone towards the future of environmentally sustainable flows throughout our river system. This will be a once-off opportunity to ensure that we get this right, and that we put in place the procedures that are required. As I said, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get it right.

We know that there has been great emphasis on the National Water Commission in bringing all the parties together, ensuring that we get that water reform right. We have already seen work that it has done over the years. This bill is very important because it will ensure that we continue with that good work. As we saw, the bill will provide for the continuation of the National Water Commission on an ongoing basis beyond the current expiry date. The bill will make changes to the functions and operations of the commission, and these changes refocus the National Water Commission on its primary purpose of providing independent assurance of governance and progress of water reform, which is so important to my home state of South Australia.