Page 828 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2023

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By bringing together knowledge, skills and resources, we can better understand the path to a healthier Canberra. I would like to thank Dr Coleman and her team for preparing this data. I commend this reporting to the Assembly.

I present the following paper:

ACT Chief Health Officer reporting update—Ministerial statement, 29 March 2023.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Water Resources Amendment Bill 2023

Mr Rattenbury, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (10.57): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Water Resources Amendment Bill 2023. The Water Resources Act 2007 is the governing legislation for managing water resources in the ACT. It defines resource management and monitoring responsibilities, access rights to surface and groundwater resources, environmental flow provisions, water licensing requirements, and sets penalties for water-related offences. The Water Resources Act instructs both water resource management policy and regulatory functions. These are administered by the Environment Protection Authority.

The bill makes no material change to function but amends part 7, section 64—Administration—of the Act to distribute administrative responsibilities. The authority remains responsible for regulatory functions. Water policy functions will become the responsibility of the Director-General of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate. Separating the functions enhances accountability by providing clarity on roles and responsibilities.

In response to amendments to part 7, section 64, the bill amends part 3, sections 13 to 15, which relate to environmental flow guidelines. These guidelines set out the policy around the quantity and timing of freshwater flows and levels necessary to sustain aquatic ecosystems which, in turn, support human cultures, economies, sustainable livelihoods and wellbeing. Responsibility for approval of the guidelines sits with me, but the preparation of the guidelines and associated consultation will now become the responsibility of the director-general and, ultimately, the Office of Water.

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