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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 6 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 2024 ..

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Water Resources Amendment Bill 2019

Debate resumed from 4 April 2019, on motion by Mr Gentleman:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.49): The bill before the Assembly today represents minor amendments to the ACT's Water Resources Act but forms a critical step in the ACT's compliance with obligations under the commonwealth Water Act and the broader security of water within the whole of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Although the ACT is a small jurisdiction within the Murray-Darling network and we lack large-scale agriculture and other water-dependent industry, it is important not to underestimate our importance within the Murray-Darling catchment. Canberra is the largest city in the Murray-Darling system. Although Adelaide is the most populous area which draws from the basin, Canberra is the largest city within the catchment itself. As such it is important for us to comply with our obligations under the federal Water Act and the broader remit of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The bill before the Assembly today has two relatively simple and technical amendments which are designed to ensure our water management procedures fit with the requirements of the federal Water Act and ensure that the ACT water resource plan can be certified by the commonwealth minister for water.

The first of these changes is to note that the ACT water resource plan will comprise the environmental flow guidelines, determinations of water management areas and determinations of surface water and groundwater available to be utilised in the territory. This change will give formal recognition to these pre-existing tools as collectively forming the ACT water resource plan.

The minister has assured us, through the scrutiny of bills committee, that the exemption to some requirements regarding notifiable instruments included in this clause of the bill are based upon legal advice. This exemption from the Legislation Act is designed to minimise any conflicts that publication and notification requirements may have with any copyright concerns within a notifiable instrument. As such the opposition is satisfied that this exemption does not limit the publication or notification of any future instruments, other than where this would require the inclusion of documents covered by copyright.

The second change to the act reiterates that the sustainable diversion limit represents the maximum amount of surface water or groundwater that may be taken from the catchment; that is, the minister cannot promise more water than is sustainable and safe

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