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Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Page: 7264

Senator XENOPHON (9:39 PM) —Could I just get some further clarification from the minister. I know the minister said earlier that stage 1 and stage 2 of the Food Bowl Modernisation Project do involve Commonwealth funds, but I would have thought that stage 2 is in a sense contingent on or linked to stage 1 with respect to that. That is a preliminary question I will put to the minister.

There is a fundamental problem here in that the role of the minister for the environment under the EPBC Act is constrained—it looks at this after the event. What happens if the audit process says, ‘We haven’t achieved these water savings,’ and there are no net water savings but the project is already up and running? The water going into Melbourne will presumably have a critical human needs status by virtue of it actually going into Melbourne.

I do appreciate the information you have provided to date, Minister, but the other issue is: how will the audit operate? What is the audit process? Who will it be conducted by? Will it be relying on information provided by the Victorian government or by Victorian government instrumentalities, or is it something that can be independently and robustly assessed by the Commonwealth or by an organisation or authority delegated by the Commonwealth in the context of an audit process?