Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Bills

Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012; In Committee

10:20 am

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray Darling Basin) Share this | Hansard source

Senator Joyce and I pursue this line of questioning because it is important to have on the record in these debates exactly how the government understands these things will work and how these measures that are being legislated for will work. I appreciate Senator Farrell's answer that perhaps it is not possible to give every single set of possible circumstances. What we currently have is a grey zone as to where the line is drawn. Senator Farrell has made clear that it is not possible under the legislation to simply undertake general buyback tenders. That will be welcomed by the communities in question.

He has given an example of where buybacks may be undertaken whereby we will see circumstances of infrastructure projects being undertaken making better use of water. And rather than the Commonwealth taking 50 per cent of the water saving, they will get 50 per cent by virtue of the infrastructure project and they will buy the other 50 per cent, and it will be farmers' free choice as to whether they participate in those projects. That is a good example; it is understood and something that communities will see as the type of measure that they can work with. The question is: where does the line get drawn in between those two examples? How is that line drawn?

Senator Farrell, what assurances and what safeguards are enshrined in this legislation and/or can be given by the government to the communities that any water buybacks undertaken will be undertaken in a way consistent with what the Prime Minister and Minister Burke have said will be measures that will have no socioeconomic detriment on the communities where those buybacks are undertaken? Can you explain to us how the legislation draws the line that guarantees that no-socioeconomic-detriment test?

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