Water Week

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State governments share liability with Commonwealth for post-2014 water compensation: NSW government says change “unacceptable”

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

Clause 255 of the Water Bill 2007 provides that nothing in the Bill or regulations authorises the Commonwealth or any other agency to compulsorily acquire a water access right or an interest in a water access right, according to advice released by the Department of Parliamentary Service on 14 August 2007. “Unacceptable” change to compensation liability: However, a water access entitlement may be reduced under the circumstances outlined in clauses 74-86. Where reductions occur after 2014 due to improvements in the knowledge of water systems’ capacity to sustain particular extraction levels, the Bill provides that relevant State governments may have part liability to pay compensation, along with the Commonwealth. Apparently in previous drafts of the Bill, States had no liability under these circumstances – the change is due to the reduced Commonwealth power over Basin water resources resulting from the fact that the Bill is no longer constitutionally underpinned by referral of Basin State powers. The NSW government at least views this change as “unacceptable”.

Small chance compensation needed:The Commonwealth has been reported as viewing any post 2014 compensation liability is likely be small as it considers most water over-allocation problems should have by fixed by 2015 due to investments in infrastructure and the like under the National Plan.
Reference: Bill McCormick, Science, Technology, Environment, and Resources Section, Water Bill 2007 – Angus Martyn and Paula Pyburne Law and Bills Digest Section, Parliamentary Library Information – analysis and advice for the Parliament, Parliament of Australia Department of Parliamentary Service, 14 August 2007, no. 30, 2007-08, ISSN 1328-8091.

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