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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 19 August 2010) . . Page.. 3621 ..

self-government, the commonwealth retained control of the water of the parliamentary triangle and other commonwealth controlled land in the territory. The commonwealth has now agreed to transfer management of water it controls in the territory to the ACT government.

COAG agreed in 1994 that there was a pressing need for the reform of water resource management in Australia. This began a process of legislative change to modernise the management approach of one of our most important natural resources. Part of the process of change was the development of an ACT Water Resources Act in 1998. Indeed, I can recall being a member of the relevant standing committee of the Assembly at the time that looked into this new piece of legislation.

As that legislation followed the 1994 agreement to change, it embodies the principles agreed by COAG. As a result, the ACT has modern water resource legislation that embodies the key principles of reform, which include secure enduring entitlements, entitlements that are not tied to specific parcels of land or uses, the identification of a secure share of the resource for the environment, a planning regime that ensures the resource is not overallocated or overused, and an ability to trade entitlements to allow new users access to a scarce resource.

The development of the national water initiative in 2004 extended the reform process and set clear objectives that each jurisdiction had to achieve in order to comply. The ACT is already largely compliant with national water initiative requirements and only needs to make minor changes to fully comply and take advantage of funding opportunities offered by the commonwealth government. Unlike other jurisdictions in Australia, the ACT does not have a long history of intensive water use. So the risk of overallocation or overuse is low. The ACT’s modern legislation and planning regime will continue to ensure we manage this resource sustainably. Further, the enlarged Cotter Dam and the Murrumbidgee to Googong projects will provide both increased storage and better utilisation of existing storages, increasing security of our urban water supply.

ACT agreement to the national water initiative and the settlement of a Murray-Darling Basin cap on extractions required ACT water users to have access to interstate water trading. The Water Resources Act explicitly permits interstate water trading, but the conditions were phrased in a manner that cast doubt on the validity of trade out of the ACT. This bill expands the provisions for interstate water trade to clarify the requirements for trade out of the ACT.

Further, the national water initiative places a higher requirement for water resource monitoring and reporting in the territory. This includes the construction and use of groundwater monitoring bores. There is an anomaly in the Water Resources Act that prevents the construction of a bore if a water entitlement is not held by the party constructing the bore. The bill includes a new provision that will permit the construction of permanent monitoring bores without the construction party holding a water entitlement in the territory.

Going to the issue of transfer of water management, the majority of this bill is devoted to the amendment of the act to facilitate the transfer of commonwealth control of

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