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Monday, 18 June 2012
Page: 3515

Senator FARRELL (South AustraliaParliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water) (21:35): I thank all three contributors—Senator Birmingham, Senator Joyce and Senator Sinodinos—to the debate on this bill. I think they all showed a great understanding of the issue about which we are here tonight—the continuation of the National Water Commission through the National Water Commission Amendment Bill 2012.

Three issues that were raised in submissions to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications require a response. The National Water Commission's Murray-Darling Basin Plan audit function is enshrined in the Water Act 2007. This bill allows for the Water Commission to undertake any function conferred by another law of the Commonwealth; this includes work required under the act. On the reporting role of COAG, it is envisaged that the National Water Commission would formally engage with COAG subcommittees at least annually, including providing regular advice on its activities. The bill provides for the commission to produce a range of strategic studies and advice, including COAG requested studies and analysis, the provision of advice and recommendations about any Commonwealth water program at the minister's request. Further, the Standing Council on Environment and Water is expected to consider this year the national water knowledge and research platform, which will include mechanisms for the improved coordination of water related research. Again, I thank all of the senators for their contributions and I commend this bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.