Monday, 2 May 2016
Water Amendment (Review Implementation and Other Measures) Bill 2015; In Committee
by leave—I move amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 7909, standing in my name, together:
(1) Schedule 1, item 1, page 3 (line 8), after "Plan", insert "including the social and economic impacts of the Basin Plan on Indigenous people".
(2) Schedule 1, item 5, page 4 (after line 12), after Subdivision H, insert:
Subdivision I—Review of long - term average sustainable diversion limits
52B Review of long - term average sustainable diversion limits
(1) Before the end of 2017, the Authority must undertake a review of the long-term average sustainable diversion limits to determine if the limits adequately account for the projected impacts of climate change.
(2) The Authority must give the Minister a written report of the review.
(3) The report must be provided to the Minister by 31 December 2017.
(4) The Minister must cause a copy of the report to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after the day the report is given to the Minister.
The Greens also oppose items 26 and 27 of schedule 1 in the following terms:
(3) Schedule 1, items 26 and 27, page 11 (line 4) to page 13 (line 24), to be opposed.
I have spoken to the amendments.
The government will not be supporting the amendments proposed by the Australian Greens. This bill was the result of an independent review of the Water Act, and the government's response released last year was subject to extensive consultation with the basin communities, including Indigenous community stakeholders and all of the states. All of the state ministers and governments have expressed enthusiastic support for the current amendments passing as they are, and for this reason the government will not be supporting the amendments put forward.
The opposition—Labor—also will not be supporting these amendments, for similar reasons. As we understand it, they do not have the support of the basin states. They have been delivered at pretty much the eleventh hour, and as we have contacted some of those basin states we understand they have not been consulted on these amendments. Therefore we cannot support these amendments, because the principle of our negotiated position has always been that this is a bipartisan position which includes the support of the basin states.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: The question now is that Australian Greens amendment (3) on sheet 7909 stand as printed.
Question agreed to.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: I am now going to call Senator Simms to move the next batch of amendments. I would ask senators to remain in the chamber to facilitate the swift resolution of these amendments.
by leave—I move Australian Greens amendments (1) to (7) on sheet 7914:
(1) Schedule 1, item 26, page 11 (lines 4 to 6), omit the item, substitute:
26 Subsection 86AE(2)
Omit "106(2)(b)", substitute "106(7)(b)".
(2) Schedule 1, item 27, page 12 (lines 27 to 34), omit all the words from and including "the objectives" to the end of paragraph 106(3)(c), substitute "the objectives mentioned in subsection (7); and".
(3) Schedule 1, item 27, page 12 (after line 34), at the end of subsection 106(3), add:
(d) in any case—the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder reasonably believes, at the time the proceeds are used for an activity, that using the proceeds for the activity will improve the capacity of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings to be applied to meet the objectives mentioned in subsection (7).
(4) Schedule 1, item 27, page 12 (lines 35 to 37), omit the note.
(5) Schedule 1, item 27, page 13 (after line 24), at the end of section 106, add:
(7) For the purposes of paragraphs (3)(c) and (d), the objectives are the objectives of one or more of the following:
(a) the environmental watering plan;
(b) a plan specified in the regulations in relation to an area outside the Murray-Darling Basin;
(c) protecting or restoring the environmental assets of an area outside the Murray-Darling Basin in relation to which those regulations do not specify a plan.
Note: This subsection is modified in relation to water access rights acquired by the Commonwealth with amounts debited from the Water for the Environment Special Account (see subsection 86AE(2)).
(6) Schedule 1, item 28, page 13 (after line 35), after paragraph (ab), insert:
(ac) if during the year the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder used the proceeds of a disposal of a water allocation for an environmental activity—how the activity has improved, or is expected to improve, the capacity of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings to be applied to meet the objectives mentioned in subsection 106(7);
(7) Schedule 1, item 29, page 14 (line 3), omit "and (ab)", substitute ", (ab) and (ac)".
In the interests of time, I will not seek to speak to the amendments.
The government will not be supporting the amendments put forward by the Australian Greens. Could I just put on the record that the government has very strict requirements in relation to reporting. This matter was also raised by Senator Xenophon in his speech in the second reading debate—that is, the necessity for stringent reporting requirements around all aspects of the act and the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
We ask the chamber to note that we have added a statutory requirement in the act for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to report annually on any trading that has been undertaken in the previous year. We will continue to consult with all senators in the chamber in relation to the very important issue of reporting arrangements.
Similarly to the previous amendments, these have been provided with only a few hours notice, again with no consultation with the basin states. It goes outside of the arrangement that both the opposition and the government have had for some time now of consulting with basin states before we move amendments, particularly amendments that deal with reporting requirements. As the minister has just outlined, there are stringent reporting requirements around the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. We also acknowledge that the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder reporting annually is a good thing. But, on the basis of there being a principle of negotiated agreement on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and changes to it, particularly those that are outlined in these amendments by the Greens, we will not be supporting these amendments.