Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Bills

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

12:37 pm

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

by leave—I move amendments (7) and (10) to (16) on sheet 7314 together:

(7) Schedule 1, item 2, page 5 (after line 37), at the end of section 86AA, add:

(4) To achieve the object of this Part, the authority must propose an adjustment under section 23A to increase the volume of the Basin water resources available for environmental use by at least 450 gigalitres with the water to be secured by 2019.

(5) The Authority must propose the adjustment by 31 December 2016.

(10) Schedule 1, item 2, page 9 (line 16) (cell at table item 1, column 3), omit "$15,000,000.00", substitute "$187,000,000.00".

(11) Schedule 1, item 2, page 9 (line 16) (cell at table item 2, column 3), omit "$40,000,000.00", substitute "$212,000,000.00".

(12) Schedule 1, item 2, page 9 (line 16) (cell at table item 3, column 3), omit "$110,000,000.00", substitute "$282,000,000.00".

(13) Schedule 1, item 2, page 9 (line 16) (cell at table item 4, column 3), omit "$430,000,000.00", substitute "$602,000,000.00".

(14) Schedule 1, item 2, page 9 (line 16) (cell at table item 5, column 3), omit "$320,000,000.00", substitute "$492,000,000.00".

(15) Schedule 1, item 2, page 9 (line 16) (table items 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10), omit the table items.

(16) Schedule 1, item 2, page 9 (after line 16), at the end of section 86AG, add:

     Note: Any amounts standing to the credit of the Water for the Environment Special Account at the end of a financial year remain available to be debited during subsequent financial years for the purposes mentioned in section 86AD.

These amendments in particular go to the time frame of this piece of legislation and the required timing of when the extra water—450 gigalitres—is to be returned. We know, of course, that the rest of the plan has to be in place by 2019, but the disappointing and concerning aspect of this legislation is that this extra 450 gigalitres is not required to be returned to the environment until 2024. That is 11 years from now. If we have all agreed that we know the best available science says 3,200 gigalitres is the absolute bare minimum—it is not even enough, much of the scientific evidence says—why on earth would we want to wait and blow out that time frame to 2024? South Australia is not going to be able to handle waiting that long in order to replenish our Lower Lakes and the Coorong and to keep Adelaide's drinking water healthy.

Of course, climate scientists are telling us already to prepare to go back into drought over the next couple of years. We are going to be back in a drying period long before 2019 and long, long before 2024. We do not have time to waste. We have been debating about the management of the Murray-Darling Basin for decades, since Federation. We now have a plan in place, albeit with the weaknesses and the problems that it has. At the very least, we should stick by the time frame that all sides in this chamber had originally agreed on back in 2008.

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