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Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Page: 7846


Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (12:26): I may take some slight issue with what the minister has said—not a big issue; don't panic, it's okay! I just wanted to say that Senator Rice's question is a very important question. My understanding, from a point of view of statutory interpretation is that where you have two competing acts there sometimes may be some ambiguity. Having this particular amendment removes that ambiguity. I think it's fair to say that what Senator Ruston said is absolutely right—the intent is that the Water Act is at all times adhered to, particularly when it comes to sustainable diversion limits and the like. But, if there could potentially, as a question of law, sometimes be a conflict between the two acts which could be the subject of legal argument, this amendment would remove that issue of legal argument. You've got some esteemed lawyers from the department behind you who know more about administrative law than I ever will—apart from being a plaintiff or defendant in administrative law cases. I suggest to Senator Rice that this amendment is doing some good work. It's not just a symbolic amendment; it actually ensures that there cannot be an argument down the track to say that the Regional Investment Corporation Act takes precedence over the Water Act, which could be a potential argument. That's my jurisprudential lesson for the day. Maybe the lawyers there will disagree with me; I'll try and dig up some case law if they do, so just give me a moment.