Water Week

EWN Publishing

South Australian Premier dissatisfied with water arrangements: better system being negotiated

Posted by waterweek on 25 September 2007

The new Murray-Darling Basin authority would operate alongside the MDB Commission, which would continue to run river operations, salinity management works and other management initiatives such as the Living Murray initiative, South Australian Premier Mike Rann said in the South Australian House of Assembly on 11 September 2007.

Emergency needs not addressed: “However,” Rann said, “the new act remains an inferior package to the more comprehensive bill and associated intergovernmental agreement previously negotiated. In particular, several matters important to South Australia, such as mandatory provisions for meeting critical human water needs in emergency situations, are not addressed due to the limitations of the commonwealth’s constitutional powers. South Australia’s preference, therefore, remains to pass complementary legislation with the commonwealth, and other states, to achieve the best outcomes for the River Murray and South Australia’s water security. The Prime Minister has publicly indicated that the commonwealth’s objective also remains comprehensive water legislation.”

Adelaide venue for next round of discussions: “Senior state and commonwealth officials met on 30 August for initial discussions on an intergovernmental agreement that aims to secure commitment from each basin state to refer powers to the commonwealth on those matters necessary to enable it to enact the comprehensive water legislation,” Rann said. “Commonwealth and basin state officials will meet in Adelaide on 12 September to hold further discussions on the intergovernmental agreement and to discuss implementation of the current Water Act 2007. Commonwealth officials have indicated that draft comprehensive water legislation and new intergovernmental agreements will be provided to states in the near future.”

Kudos for Beattie: “While Victoria continues to participate in discussions, its position at this stage remains unchanged from the policy paper released in February 2007 and the subsequent terms of referral document provided to the commonwealth. However, I want to thank one Premier in particular, and that is the Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie, who is retiring on Thursday. When I announced that we would only hand over powers to the commonwealth if we could have an independent commission to run the River Murray, he joined forces with South Australia, and that ensured that the Prime Minister changed his mind and we got that independent commission we were lobbying for.”

Reference: M.D. Rann, Premier of South Australia, Minister for the Arts, House of Assembly, South Australia, 11 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 17/9/2007

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