Water Week

EWN Publishing

Renewed water debate an opportunity to settle proper recognition of water rights: Independent MP Tony Windsor

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

The water debate, and the issue of water rights in particular, was 10 years overdue, said Independent MP Tony Windsor in the Commonwealth House of Representatives on 12 September 2007.

1995 reform: Windsor said: “In the past 12 months we have been talking in this parliament about a $10 billion Murray-Darling plan, part of which is to claw back entitlements. I take the parliament back to 1995, when the national competition agreement for reform of four basic areas, water being one, was signed.

Property rights ignored: “Two major issues were addressed in the document that the states and the Commonwealth signed at the time: firstly, that a proper operating market for water be achieved across the four states and, secondly, that property rights be recognised. Over a 10-year period, property rights have never been recognised,” Windsor said. “There has been constant movement of the goalposts. We have gone through a whole lot of intergovernmental agreements, bilateral agreements and catchment management blueprints. I remember the member for Gwydir standing up and saying, ‘Property rights have been achieved because they are in the catchment management blueprints, because I put them there.’ They are unsighted today. They do not exist.

PM says water right “compensatable”: “Some people have claimed that schedule 7 of this bill is in fact recognition of a property right. It is not at all. I ask the minister to address the issue of property rights. The Prime Minister, in answer to questions that I have asked him on this issue, used the words ‘properly conferred water right’ and said that it should be treated as compensatable,” Windsor said.

Reference: Tony Windsor, Member for New England, Independent, House of Representative, Commonwealth of Australia, 12 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 22/9/2007

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