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Water Amendment Bill 2008

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2008

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

_____________________________

 

WATER AMENDMENT BILL 2008

________________­­­______________

 

 

SCHEDULE OF THE AMENDMENTS MADE BY THE SENATE TO WHICH THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS DISAGREED

(2)     Xenophon (1) [Sheet 5649]

          Page 2 (after line 11), after clause 3, insert:

4  Review of operation of Water Act 2007 as amended by this Act

             (1)  The Productivity Commission must, by 30 June 2010, and each 30 June thereafter, prepare a report on the operation of the Water Act 2007 as amended by this Act and provide it to the Minister.

             (2)  In preparing a report required under subsection (1), the Productivity Commission must consider but is not limited to the following matters:

                     (a)  the environmental impact on inflows;

                     (b)  the economic sustainability of Basin water resources;

                     (c)  the environmental sustainability of Basin water resources;

                     (d)  the relative efficiency of water trading rules;

                     (e)  the effectiveness of the Authority in carrying out its functions;

                      (f)  the adequacy of the powers of the Authority;

                     (g)  alternative models buying back tradeable water rights;

                     (h)  the effectiveness of infrastructure projects and other water-saving measures funded (in whole or in part) by the Commonwealth;

                      (i)  any other matter relevant to the objects of the Water Act 2007 .

             (3)  The Minister must ensure that the Productivity Commission has sufficient resources to prepare a report required under subsection (1).

             (4)  The Minister must cause a copy of a report prepared under subsection (1) to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 5 sitting days of that House after receiving the report.

(3)     Opp (1) [Sheet 5657]

          Schedule 1, item 1, page 11 (after line 2), after subsection 18H(1), insert:

          (1A)  Until the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have each achieved the objective of increasing the flow of water in the River Murray as required by the Living Murray Initiative , these States’ water savings programs are to be independently audited and, as soon as the saved water becomes available, the water must be allocated to the Living Murray Initiative and must not be used for any other purpose.

(4)     Opp (1) [Sheet 5650]/ AG (1) [Sheet 5659]

          Schedule 1, item 2, page 11 (lines 28 to 35), omit subsection 86A(2), substitute:

             (2)  Critical human water needs are the needs for a minimum amount of water, that can only reasonably be provided from Basin water resources, required to meet human drinking, sanitation and health requirements in urban and rural areas.

(5)     Xenophon (3) [Sheet 5649]

          Schedule 2, page 293 (after line 7), after item 45, insert:

45A  Before paragraph 20(a)

Insert:

                    (aa)  the Authority to take a whole of Basin approach in managing Basin water resources, taking into account environmental, social, economic and hydrological considerations; and

(6)     Opp and AG (1) [Sheet 5622 Revised 3] ( As amended by Opp (2) on sheet 5657 )

          Schedule 2, page 294 (after line 2), after item 50, insert:

50A  At the end of section 21

Add:

Basin Plan not to permit taking water for additional uses outside Basin

             (8)  The Basin Plan must ensure that no water is taken from Basin water resources for use outside the Murray-Darling Basin unless, prior to 3 July 2008, water would have been taken from Basin water resources for that use.

Note:          3 July 2008 is the date the Commonwealth, the Basin States and the Australian Capital Territory entered into an intergovernmental agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform.

             (9)  The Basin Plan must not permit:

                     (a)  the construction or operation of water infrastructure; or

                     (b)  work in the nature of a river flow control work;

if the primary purpose of that construction, operation or work is to enable water to be taken contrary to subsection (8).

Note 1:       water infrastructure is defined in section 7(3).

Note 2:       river flow control work is defined in section 8 but has a meaning affected by subsection (10).

           (10)  For the purposes of this section, river flow control work has the meaning it would have if paragraph 8(2)(b) were repealed.

        (10A)  To avoid doubt:

                     (a)  the delivery of water for the initiatives of the Water for Rivers project was an existing use of water prior to 3 July 2008; and

                     (b)  the taking of water for the initiatives of the Water for Rivers project is not contrary to subsection 21(8); and

                     (c)  the construction and operation of water infrastructure for the initiatives of the Water for Rivers project is not contrary to subsection 257(1); and

                     (d)  all commenced and provisionally agreed Snowy River environmental flows are preserved and excluded from the provisions of subsections 21(8), 21(9) and 257(1).

(7)     AG (2) [Sheet 5659]

          Schedule 2, page 294 (after line 2), after item 50, insert:

50B  At the end of section 21

Add:

Basin Plan to provide for reduction in use in additional population centres outside Basin

           (11)  The Basin Plan must provide for a reduction over time in the amount of water taken from Basin water resources to meet the needs of population centres outside the Murray-Darling Basin.

(8)     Xenophon (2) [Sheet 5649]

          Schedule 2, page 306 (after line 1), after item 97, insert:

97D  Before paragraph 172(1)(a)

Insert:

                    (aa)  to pursue and, where appropriate, make recommendations to other agencies to pursue the objects of the Act as set out in section 3;

(10)   AG (22) [Sheet 5629]

          Schedule 2, page 308 (after line 5), after item 106, insert:

106B  Before paragraph 175(2)(a)

Insert:

                    (aa)  those aspects of the Basin Plan excluded from Ministerial direction under subsection 44(5);

(11)   AG (23) [Sheet 5629]

          Schedule 2, page 308 (after line 5), after item 106, insert:

106C  Subsection 178(6)

Omit “must”, substitute “may”.

(13)   Opp and AG (2) [Sheet 5622 Revised 3]

          Schedule 2, page 318 (after line 32), after item 162, insert:

162A  At the end of Part 12

Add:

257  Prohibited water infrastructure operations

             (1)  An infrastructure operator must not:

                     (a)  construct or operate water infrastructure; or

                     (b)  undertake work in the nature of a river flow control work;

if the primary purpose of that construction, operation or work is to enable water to be taken from Basin water resources for use outside the Murray-Darling Basin.

Note 1:       infrastructure operator and water infrastructure are defined in section 7.

Note 2:       river flow control work is defined in section 8 but has a meaning affected by subsection (3).

             (2)  Subsection (1) does not apply if, prior to 3 July 2008, water would have been taken from Basin water resources for that use.

             (3)  For the purposes of this section, river flow control work has the meaning it would have if paragraph 8(2)(b) were repealed.

(14)   Opp (5) [Sheet 5640] ( As amended by AG )

          Schedule 2, page 318 (after line 32), after item 162, insert:

162E  At the end of Part 12

Add:

261  Water market transparency

                   The Minister must, by legislative instrument, determine a scheme to ensure transparent operation of the water market in respect of the purchase of water entitlements by the Commonwealth.

(15)   Opp (1) [Sheet 5664 Revised]

          Schedule 2, page 318 (after line 32), after item 162, insert:

162G  At the end of Part 12

Add:

263  Lower Lakes and Coorong emergency assistance

             (1)  As soon as practicable after the commencement of this section, the Government must determine an assistance package of a minimum $50 million for Lower Lakes and Coorong communities to help farmers, small businesses, tourism and community sectors to respond to the crisis caused by the lack of water.

             (2)  Payments of assistance in accordance with a scheme determined under subsection (1) are to be made from money appropriated by the Parliament for that purpose.)

 

________________­­­______________



HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES REASONS FOR DISAGREEING TO

THE SENATE AMENDMENTS

 

Senate amendment 2

Amendment 2 proposes a role for the Productivity Commission in the review of the operation of the Water Act 2007 . A number of reviews are already incorporated into the Water Act 2007 and the Water Amendment Bill 2008.

Prior to the Basin Plan coming into effect in early 2011, the Schedules of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement will be reviewed to determine whether they will continue to be required, and, if so, to ensure they will be consistent with the Basin Plan. Within one year of the Basin Plan coming into effect the entire Agreement must be reviewed, which may lead to further amendments being proposed to the Ministerial Council. Also, the National Water Commission must conduct five-yearly audits of the effectiveness of the implementation of the Basin Plan and the water resource plans prepared by Basin States.

In addition, before the end of 2014, a review of the operation of the Act must be conducted, including into key elements of the Basin Plan. Finally, not less than five years after the commencement of the Basin Plan in early 2011, the Basin Plan may be reviewed at the request of the Minister or the Basin States. In the absence of a request the Basin Plan must be reviewed every 10 years. Further the Authority can propose amendments at any time.

On this basis, the Government considers that imposing a further annual review is not required. Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

 

Senate amendments 3, 5 and 10

Amendments 3, 5 and 10 are not supported as they do not achieve anything that the current Water Act 2007 and Water Amendment Bill 2008 do not already achieve, and are thus redundant. Amendment 3 proposes auditing for the water recovery aspects of the Living Murray Initiative which the Government believes is duplicative of the existing thorough auditing arrangements provided for in the 2004 Intergovernmental Agreement on Addressing Water Overallocation and Achieving Environmental Objectives in the Murray-Darling Basin, and under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement, which the Government fully supports. Amendment 5 proposes a whole of basin approach be adopted by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, which is already extensively provided for through the existing provisions, in particular section 20 provides for the integrated management of the Basin Water resources. Amendment 10 proposes to restate constraints on the directions of the Minister to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, which are already stated elsewhere in the Water Act 2007 .

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept these amendments.

 

Senate amendment 4

Amendment 4, which proposes a new definition for critical human needs, is not accepted as it cannot be supported by the referral of power from Murray-Darling Basin States. As referred text, this aspect of the bill cannot be changed without working through the various mechanisms of the referral including re-consideration of the provision by the State parliaments. In addition the Government does not support the policy intent of the change.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

 

Senate amendments 6, 7 and 13

Amendments 6, 7 and 13 propose to limit new extractions of water from the Murray-Darling Basin, and impact upon existing extractions from the Basin. The Government is not supportive of mechanisms that pre-determine how water can be used, so long as the extraction of that water is within the sustainable diversion limit established under the Basin Plan.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept these amendments.

 

Senate amendment 8

Amendment 8 proposes that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority pursue the objects of the Act and make recommendations to others to do the same. The purpose of the Authority’s Basin Plan already is to promote the objectives of the Act and the Government has concerns about the independence of other agencies if this Parliament provides for the Authority to make recommendations to other agencies.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

 

Senate amendment 11

Amendment 11 proposes changes to the basis of engaging members of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and has the potential to alter the governance arrangement for this organisation in a way that is not supported by the Government. The proposal is also inconsistent with the Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform signed in July.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

 

Senate amendment 14

Amendment 14 proposes the development of a legislative instrument to determine a scheme to ensure transparency of Commonwealth purchases of water entitlements on the water market. The Government is purchasing water entitlements from willing sellers and is complying with the same rules as other market participants, and acting consistently with Commonwealth procurement guidelines. The Government has committed to publishing relevant information about its purchasing activities, and has already conducted an independent review of the initial tender process run in 2008. On the basis of the transparent approach the Government is already taking in respect of its purchasing activities, the Government does not support this amendment.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

 

Senate amendment 15

Amendment 15 proposes funding for communities around the Lower Lakes and Coorong in South Australia. The Government considers it inappropriate to make Budget commitments in this manner, and further considers that substantial and effectively targeted funding is already flowing to support the needs of this important region under the Water for the Future program.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

____________________

 

 

 

 

SCHEDULE OF THE AMENDMENT MADE BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO AMENDMENT No. 16 MADE BY THE SENATE

 

(1) Senate amendment (16) (heading to proposed new Schedule 4 to the Water Act 2007 ):

Omit “ the recognition of Indigenous water rights ”, substitute “ Indigenous representation on the Basin Community Committee ”.

 

 

____________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                              I C HARRIS

                                                                      Clerk of the House of Representatives

 

 

House of Representatives

1 December 2008