Page 1930 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 27 June 2023

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Water Resources Amendment Bill 2023

Debate resumed from 29 March 2023, on motion by Mr Rattenbury:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR PARTON (Brindabella) (11.12): I rise to speak briefly on the Water Resources Amendment Bill 2023. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Water Resources Act 2007 to clarify administrative responsibilities for water resource management and the role of the ACT and Region Catchment Management Coordination Group within the ACT water sector governance arrangements. It is pretty exciting stuff.

These clarifications will assist in establishing the Office of Water, a dedicated water management body in the ACT. It is my understanding that the amendments outlined in this bill will make the Director-General of Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development, or the future equivalent, responsible for water policy functions; will see the Environment Protection Authority retain responsibility for regulatory functions, including upholding licence conditions; and will clarify the role of the coordination group within the ACT water sector governance arrangements.

My colleague and shadow minister for water, Nicole Lawder, is incredibly passionate—sometimes she is a little too passionate!—about improving water quality in our lakes and waterways. In her discussion booklet launched earlier this year, one of the foundations of her new approach to improving water quality was ensuring that the Office of Water has genuine teeth through appropriate resourcing, and that the authority would be the single point of contact on water quality in the ACT. For far too long we have seen millions of dollars allocated to water quality projects, but the mismanagement of these assets and the failure to maintain them have seen their worth effectively and literally go down the drain.

This bill today clarifies who is responsible for several water management matters. However, the Canberra Liberals look forward to hearing more about the role of the Office of Water and how it will be resourced. We are also eager to hear exactly how separate directories and government bodies will improve how they interact with one another on water management issues.

I would like to thank the directorate and the minister’s staff for facilitating a briefing with Ms Lawder and her office on this bill in May. The Canberra Liberals will not be opposing this bill today.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.15): I rise today to speak in support of the Water Resources Amendment Bill brought forward by Minister Rattenbury. The Water Resources Amendment Bill proposes administrative changes to strengthen the foundational governance arrangements for water management in the ACT.

The arrangements are founded on a thorough review of water governance arrangements that was conducted through a participatory process that involved all ACT directorates with water management responsibilities and Icon Water.

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