Water Week

EWN Publishing

Water Bill 2007 leaves too many unanswered questions, places unreasonable pressure on states acting in good faith: Labor MP

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

While the Water Bill was a step forward, there was confusion and doubts about several key issues, said Labor MP Anthony Albanese in the Federal Parliament on 14 August 2007.

Unanswered questions: “Why do we have both a Murray-Darling Basin Authority and a Murray-Darling Basin Commission?” asked Albanese. “How will compulsory water entitlement reductions under section 77 work, and how are they different from compulsory acquisition? When will the government circulate the all-important intergovernmental agreement? What will the risk sharing arrangements be with the states, and why should the states carry more risk than was agreed to with the Prime Minister in early July?”

Punishment inappropriate: “Those issues of risk sharing and compensation have been major issues raised by the New South Wales and Queensland governments,” said Albanese. “Premier Iemma has written to the Prime Minister suggesting that he honour the agreement that was given by some of the state governments early on to this national plan. It would appear that this bill is written deliberately to place pressure on all of the states to sign up to the original referral of powers; otherwise funding will be held back. It is not an appropriate way to punish states that were prepared to refer their powers and engage in a truly national plan which Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and the ACT were prepared to do.”

Bill silent on downstream consequences: “The other concern is: why are the water needs for towns and cities in the basin and the other downstream consequences of water planning not dealt with in the bill?” Albanese asked.

Reference: Anthony Albanese, the Deputy Speaker, Member for Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, 14 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 19/8/2007

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