Senate debates

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Bills

Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012; In Committee

9:31 am

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I move Australian Greens amendment (3) on sheet 7310:

  (3) Schedule 1, item 10, page 6 (line 18), at the end of subsection 23A(2), add:

; and (e) a requirement for the Authority not to propose an adjustment under paragraph (1)(a) or (b) without:

  (i) undertaking modelling of the environmental impacts of the proposed adjustment using an integrated water model that takes into account the best available science including the most recent knowledge about climate change, ground water and the environmental water requirements of key environmental assets and key ecosystem functions of the water resource; and

  (ii) publicly releasing the modelling along with a plain language assessment of the environmental outcomes modelled, including in relation to ground water and the environmental water requirements of key environmental assets and key ecosystem functions of the water resource.

This amendment put forward by the Greens requires that there be basin-wide modelling done prior to any adjustment in the levels of sustainable diversion limits to ensure that we know exactly what the impact of the changes to that water recovery, either up or down, will actually be. As per this legislation, after the authority proposes that a particular adjustment is made, it then goes to the minister and then of course it is a disallowable instrument. That modelling must be done so that the parliament understands and can make sure that the authority has all of the information at hand about the impact that that adjustment would have.

We have heard lots of talk over the last few days about the lack of modelling that has been available—and, to their credit, members of the Nationals have stood and spoken about this—and the lack of information that has been made public. This amendment would be about ensuring that, once there is an adjustment made, that information is available—that the authority is not making the proposal in a vacuum, as some would argue has been the case.

We need to make sure that we know what the environmental impacts of any adjustment are going to be. It is not good enough for the authority to say that they have done the modelling and have looked at it themselves and for them to keep the information to themselves. It must be available to the public. It must be available to the communities that that adjustment may or may not affect. The parliament must have access to it in order to make a decision about whether they accept or deny the minister's recommendation if an adjustment is to be tabled in this place.

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