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Regional Investment Corporation Bill 2017

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2016-2017

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

SENATE

REGIONAL INVESTMENT CORPORATION BILL 2017

SUPPLEMENTARY EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

AMENDMENTS AND NEW CLAUSES TO BE MOVED ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT

(Circulated by authority of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP)



AMENDMENT TO THE REGIONAL INVESTMENT CORPORATION BILL 2017

GENERAL OUTLINE

The proposed amendments to the Regional Investment Corporation Bill 2017 (the Bill) will require, in giving a direction to the Regional Investment Corporation (the Corporation) to enter into an agreement with a state or territory in relation to a grant of financial assistance for a water infrastructure project, the responsible Ministers to exercise their powers consistently with the Water Act 2007 (the Water Act).

The proposed amendments reflect existing obligations under the Water Act. In particular, sections 34 and 35 require the Commonwealth and Basin States, respectively, to act in a manner that is consistent with and gives effect to the Basin Plan 2012. This includes, for example, compliance with sustainable diversion limits set in the Basin Plan 2012.  

The proposed amendments will also require, before giving such a direction to the Corporation, the responsible Ministers to seek the advice of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (the Authority) as to whether in giving the direction, the Ministers would be exercising their powers consistently with the Basin Plan. This requirement would only apply for a water infrastructure project that is wholly or partly located within the Murray-Darling Basin.

The proposed amendments will require the Board to notify the responsible Ministers when an agreement has been entered into which relates to a water infrastructure project that the Authority has provided advice on. The responsible Ministers will then be required to publish the Authority’s advice within 30 working days of the responsible Ministers receiving notification from the Board.

FINANCIAL IMPACT

The proposed amendments will not alter the financial impact of the Bill.

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

The proposed amendments are compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 as they do not engage any human rights issues.

NOTES ON AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1 - will insert new subclauses 12(3A) and (3B) .

Subclause 12(3) will allow the responsible Ministers to give a direction, in writing, to the Corporation to enter into an agreement to grant financial assistance to a particular state or territory in relation to a particular water infrastructure project, including the terms and conditions of the assistance.

 

New subclause 12(3A) will provide that, in giving a direction to the Corporation under subclause 12(3), the responsible Ministers must exercise their powers consistently with the Water Act . New subclause 12(3A) will make it clear to the reader that the responsible Ministers, in exercising their power under subclause 12(3), must act consistently with the Water Act.

The amendment will also insert new subclause 12(3B), which will require that, before giving a direction to the Corporation under subclause 12(3), the responsible Ministers must seek the advice of the Authority as to whether in giving the direction, the Ministers would be exercising the Ministers’ powers consistently with the Basin Plan (as defined by the Water Act). This requirement would only apply to a direction relating to a water infrastructure project that is wholly or partly located within the Murray-Darling Basin.

Amendment 2 - will insert new subclause 12(4A) which will require, following a direction under subclause 12(3B), the Board to notify the responsible Ministers when an agreement relating to a water infrastructure project is entered into. It also requires the responsible Ministers to publish the Authority’s advice within 30 working days of the responsible Ministers receiving notification from the Board.

The Authority is an independent expertise-based statutory agency responsible for Basin-wide water resource planning and management. Publishing the Authority’s advice in line with new subclause 12(4A) will provide transparency.