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WATER AMENDMENT BILL 2008

Order of the day read for the further consideration of the bill in committee of the whole.

In the committee

Consideration resumed of the bill, as amended.

Question—That the bill, as amended, be agreed to—divided in respect of Schedule 2, item 78.

Schedule 2, item 78 debated and agreed to.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

 Schedule 2, page 304 (after line 14), after item 90, insert:

 90A At the end of Part 2

  Add:

 

Division 5—Investments

 

86AA Investment decisions

  (1) The Minister, in making investment decisions related to the Murray-Darling Basin, including but not limited to investments relating to modernising on-farm and off-farm irrigation infrastructure, major engineering works and the purchase of water allocations, must:

 (a) ensure consistency of the investment with the Basin Plan; and

 (b) ensure consistency of the investment with the National Water Initiative commitments, giving effect to the principles of full-cost recovery, user pays and pricing transparency; and

 (c) provide transparency and accountability in the expenditure of funds; and

 (d) monitor and measure the effectiveness of the investment in meeting the objectives of the Basin Plan; and

 (e) assess the cost effectiveness of the proposal.

  (2) To ensure that where any water entitlement savings are to be shared between the environment and an existing entitlement holder, the Minister must:

 (a) have the extent of the savings confirmed by an independent auditor;

 (b) reduce the existing licence holder's access entitlement by at least 50% of the savings that are expected to occur after the investment is made.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

 Schedule 2, page 304 (after line 16), after item 91, insert:

 91A Part 5 (heading)

  Repeal the heading, substitute:

 

Part 5—Murray-Darling Basin Water Rights Information Service and Register


 91B At the end of Part 5

  Add:

 

103A Progressively established Basin Water Register

  (1) The Authority may establish a Guaranteed Water Rights Register in a manner that is consistent with the Basin Plan.

  (2) The Authority may establish a process enabling the voluntary transfer of registrable water rights issued by States to the Register established under subsection (1).

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

 Schedule 2, page 305 (after line 16), after item 93, insert:

 93A Paragraph 110(1)(a)

  Before "using", insert "acquiring, holding or".

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

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

 97A Subsection 140(1)

  Repeal the subsection (not including the heading), substitute:

  (1) If a person has engaged, is engaging or is proposing to engage in conduct consisting of an act or omission that constituted, constitutes or would constitute a contravention to which this Part applies, an application to a Court for an injunction may be sought by:

 (a) the appropriate enforcement agency; or

 (b) an interested person (other than an unincorporated organisation); or

 (c) a person acting on behalf of an unincorporated organisation that is an interested person.

 97B At the end of section 140

  Add:

  (7) For the purposes of an application for an injunction relating to conduct or proposed conduct, an individual is an interested person if the individual is an Australian citizen or is ordinarily resident in Australia or an external Territory, and:

 (a) the individual's interests have been, are or would be affected by the conduct or proposed conduct; or

 (b) the individual engaged in a series of activities for protection or conservation of, or research into, water resources or dependent ecosystems, at any time in the 2 years immediately before:

 (i) the conduct; or

 (ii) in the case of proposed conduct—making the application for the injunction.


 (8) For the purposes of an application for an injunction relating to conduct or proposed conduct, an organisation (whether incorporated or not) is an interested person if it is incorporated (or was otherwise established) in Australia or an external Territory and one or more of the following conditions are met:

 (a) the organisation's interests have been, are or would be affected by the conduct or proposed conduct;

 (b) if the application relates to conduct—at any time during the 2 years immediately before the conduct:

 (i) the organisation's objects or purposes included the protection or conservation of, or research into, water resources or dependent ecosystems; and

 (ii) the organisation has been engaged in a series of activities related to the protection or conservation of, or research into, water resources or dependent ecosystems; and

 (c) if the application relates to proposed conduct—at any time during the 2 years immediately before the making of the application:

 (i) the organisation's objects or purposes included the protection or conservation of, or research into, water resources or dependent ecosystems; and

 (ii) the organisation has been engaged in a series of activities related to the protection or conservation of, or research into, water resources or dependent ecosystems.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

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

 97C At the end of Part 8

  Add:

 

Division 10—Review of administrative decisions

 

170A Extended standing for judicial review

  (1) This section extends (and does not limit) the meaning of the term person aggrieved in the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 for the purposes of the application of that Act in relation to:

 (a) a decision made under this Act or the regulations; or

 (b) a failure to make a decision under this Act or the regulations; or

 (c) conduct engaged in for the purpose of making a decision under this Act or the regulations.

  (2) An individual is taken to be a person aggrieved by the decision, failure or conduct if:

 (a) the individual is an Australian citizen ordinarily resident in Australia or an external Territory; and


 (b) at any time in the 2 years immediately before the decision, failure or conduct, the individual has engaged in a series of activities in Australia or an external Territory for protection or conservation of, or research into, water resources or dependent ecosystems.

  (3) An organisation or association (whether incorporated or not) is taken to be a person aggrieved by the decision, failure or conduct if:

 (a) the organisation or association is incorporated, or was otherwise established, in Australia or an external Territory; and

 (b) at any time in the 2 years immediately before the decision, failure or conduct, the organisation or association has engaged in a series of activities in Australia or an external Territory for protection or conservation of, or research into, water resources or dependent ecosystems; and

 (c) at the time of the decision, failure or conduct, the objects or purposes of the organisation or association included protection or conservation of, or research into, water resources or dependent ecosystems.

  (4)  A term (except person aggrieved) used in this section and in the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 has the same meaning in this section as it has in that Act.

   

170B Applications on behalf of unincorporated organisations

   Applications for a review of decisions under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 may be made by a person acting on behalf of an unincorporated organisation that is a person aggrieved for the purposes of that Act by:

 (a) a decision made under this Act or the regulations; or

 (b) a failure to make a decision under this Act or the regulations; or

 (c) conduct engaged in for the purpose of making a decision under this Act or the regulations.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendments together by leave:

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

 97D Before paragraph 172(1)(a)

  Insert:

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

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

 97E Paragraph 172(1)(b)

  After "quantity", insert "and the threat to the long term health".

 Schedule 2, page 306 (after line 19), after item 100, insert:

 100A At the end of paragraph 172(1)(h)

  Add "with specific attention to river, wetland and estuary health".

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendments be agreed to—put and negatived.


On the motion of Senator Nash, at the request of Senator Xenophon, the following amendment was debated and agreed to:

 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;

Senator Nash moved the following amendment:

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

 162B At the end of Part 12

  Add:

 

258 Community Impact Statements

  (1) For each region in the Basin in which the Commonwealth purchases or intends to purchase any privately-held water entitlement, the Minister must publish a Community Impact Statement specifying:

 (a) social and cultural impacts;

 (b) economic impacts;

 (c) environmental impacts;

 (d) the criteria used by the Commonwealth in deciding to purchase that water entitlement;

 (e) any conditions upon which the purchase was made;

 (f) other water entitlements the Commonwealth is considering purchasing in the region.

  (2) A report published under subsection (1) must specify the modelling and evidence upon which the impacts referred to in paragraphs (1)(a), (b) and (c) were determined.

  (3) The Community Impact Statement must be used in determining the allocation of funds under any structural adjustment package determined under section 259.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendments together by leave:

 No. 1—Schedule 2, page 308 (after line 5), after item 106, insert:

 106A Subsection 175(1)

  After "directions", insert ", which must be consistent with the objects of this Act,".

 No. 2—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);

Debate ensued.


The question was divided—

Question—That amendment no. 1 be agreed to—put and passed.

Question—That amendment no. 2 be agreed to—put and passed.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

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

 106C Subsection 178(6)

  Omit "must", substitute "may".

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put.

The committee divided—

AYES,40


Senators—
BarnettCoonanJohnstonParry (Teller)
BernardiCormannJoycePayne
BirminghamEgglestonKrogerRonaldson
BoswellFergusonLudlamRyan
BoyceFieldingMacdonaldScullion
BrandisFierravanti-WellsMasonSiewert
Brown, BobFifieldMcGauranTroeth
BushbyFisherMilneTrood
CashHanson-YoungMinchinWilliams
ColbeckHumphriesNashXenophon

NOES, 28


Senators—
ArbibCrossinHurleyMoore
BilykFarrell (Teller)HutchinsPratt
Brown, CarolFaulknerLudwigSherry
CameronFeeneyLundyStephens
CarrForshawMarshallSterle
CollinsFurnerMcEwenWong
ConroyHoggMcLucasWortley

Question agreed to.

On the motion of the Leader of the Australian Greens (Senator Bob Brown) the following amendment was debated and agreed to:

 Schedule 2, page 318 (after line 8), after item 161, insert:

 161A After section 255

  Insert:

 

255A Mitigation of unintended diversions

  (1) Prior to exploration licences being granted for subsidence mining operations on floodplains that have underlying groundwater systems forming part of the Murray-Darling system inflows, an independent expert study must be undertaken to determine the impacts of the proposed mining operations on the connectivity of groundwater systems, surface water and groundwater flows and water quality.

  (2) Where a substantial risk is identified exploration licences must not be granted.


Senator Nash moved the following amendment:

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

 162C At the end of Part 12

  Add:

 

259 Structural adjustment package

  (1) The Minister must, by legislative instrument, determine a scheme in the nature of a structural adjustment package to allocate appropriate funding to communities affected by the purchase by the Commonwealth of any privately-held water entitlements.

  (2) A scheme determined under subsection (1) must provide for structural adjustment assistance to be allocated to communities to assist them to adjust to:

 (a) reduced water availability;

 (b) reduced economic activity associated with the closure of farming or other enterprises;

 (c) changes in land use.

  (3) In determining the amount of funding to be allocated to any community under the scheme, regard must be had to the Community Impact Statement in relation to the affected community published under section 258.

Debate ensued.

Senator Xenophon moved the following amendment to Senator Nash's proposed amendment:

 At the end of proposed section 259, add:

  (4) The Minister, in considering the content of any structural adjustment package, must take into account the history of relative water efficiencies in irrigation districts and the means by which they have been achieved.

Debate ensued.

Question—That Senator Xenophon's amendment to Senator Nash's proposed amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Debate continued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Nash moved the following amendment:

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

 162D At the end of Part 12

  Add:

 

260 Water saving infrastructure program

  (1) The Minister must, by legislative instrument, determine a scheme to achieve water efficiency measures through Commonwealth investment in water saving infrastructure.

  (2) A scheme determined under subsection (1) must set clear targets for water to be saved from on-farm and off-farm infrastructure projects.


  (3) A report is to be prepared as at 1 July 2009, and for each subsequent six-month period, containing a schedule for each project being undertaken or planned and, for each project:

 (a) the expected water savings;

 (b) the share of savings to be dedicated to environmental, irrigation or other purposes;

 (c) the licence associated with those savings.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Nash moved the following amendment:

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

 162E At the end of Part 12

  Add:

 

261 Water market transparency

  (1) 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.

  (2) The scheme must ensure that there is disclosure of information in relation to price, volume, security, location, terms and conditions attached to the purchase of entitlements; whether the purchase of water entitlements was contingent upon the purchase of real property rights and, if so: the criteria by which it was determined to proceed with the purchase; and the evidentiary basis for any subsequent changes to the use of property so acquired.

  (3) The scheme must also provide for a real-time or live exchange disclosing irrigation region, latest sale and value, bid and offer and price by megalitre.

Debate ensued.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment to Senator Nash's proposed amendment:

 Omit subsections 261(2) and 261(3).

Debate ensued.

Question—That Senator Siewert's amendment to Senator Nash's proposed amendment be agreed to—put and passed.

Question—That the amendment, as amended, be agreed to—put and passed.

Senator Nash moved the following amendment:

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

 162F At the end of Part 12

  Add:

 

262 Inquiry into bulk water arrangements

  (1) The Minister must cause an inquiry to be held into the effects of Commonwealth water purchases from bulk water arrangements.

  (2) The inquiry must consider what steps the Minister should take to prevent third party effects within bulk water arrangements on remaining parties.


  (3) The inquiry must report by 1 July 2009 and the Minister must cause a copy of the report to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 5 sitting days of receiving the report.

  (4) The Minister must have regard to the recommendations of the report of the inquiry in proceeding with subsequent purchases of water from bulk water arrangements.

Debate ensued.

At 12.45 pm: The Acting Deputy President (Senator Parry) resumed the chair and the Temporary Chair of Committees reported progress.