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Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Page: 7277


Senator SIEWERT (10:46 PM) —I move Greens amendment (4) on sheet 5659:

(4)    Schedule 2, page 301 (after line 14), after item 75, insert:

75A  Section 64

Repeal the section, substitute:

                  The accreditation of a water resource plan under section 63 ceases to have effect at the end of the period of six months after the Basin Plan first comes into effect.

This amendment relates to the duration of accredited state plans. The issue very specifically here is the fact that, under the present agreement and act, the various state catchment plans and water-sharing plans do not have to come into effect until 2014 in the case of New South Wales and until 2019 in the case of Victoria.

As I said in my speech in the second reading debate, we do not believe that this is appropriate. We do not believe that leaving the implementation of or bringing in line water-sharing plans with the Basin Plan until 2019 is appropriate. That is 11 years down the track. Some of them may well in fact be encouraged to modify their plans before that date, but they do not have to. This amendment seeks to ensure that water-sharing plans, catchment management plans, come into line with the Basin Plan so that we can start implementing the Basin Plan much sooner than 2019. That is the objective of the amendment. We are trying to ensure that we have a Basin Plan that is able to be implemented throughout the basin consistently and as soon as practically possible.

We appreciate that there is a certain amount of time that is going to be needed to develop the plan and to consult adequately with the community. As I also alluded to in my speech in the second reading debate, there is a need to coordinate the buyback, the delivery of the infrastructure water efficiency expenditure and any restructuring funding that may become available and that is undertaken. That, we know, takes time. Consulting with the community takes time. We need to make sure that this Basin Plan is acceptable to the community because, when all is said and done, despite the fact that we—collectively, the Australian community—are investing $12.9 billion, it is the community that wears the brunt. It is the farmers who end up making the change, and they need to be on board with this plan as well.

So we appreciate that there is going to be some time taken to develop the plan, but we do not appreciate that it is acceptable that, in some catchments, the water-sharing plans will not be changed until 2019. We are supposed to be taking a whole-of-basin approach to this crisis. Different implementation under different scenarios over a period of time—between 2011, when the Basin Plan is to be completed, to 2019 when it is finally implemented in some catchments—is not a whole-of-basin approach. This amendment is intended to ensure that the various state plans and water-sharing plans come into line with the Basin Plan as soon as is practical after the Basin Plan is finalised.