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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 19 August 2010) . . Page.. 3622 ..


water to the ACT government. Prior to calling the upcoming federal election the commonwealth had tabled legislation to facilitate the transfer of management of its water resources to the territory. The election will obviously delay the transfer, but it is not likely to stop the process. There is provision in this bill to enact portions of the legislation separately. That portion of the bill dealing with the transfer of the commonwealth water will only be enacted when the commonwealth government has passed its complementary legislation.

The proposed amendments will pass the authority to manage the extraction of water, the sinking of bores, and undertaking works in a waterway from the commonwealth to the territory. These provisions would also apply to private water extraction on commonwealth land, such as the Canberra airport. In addition, the change will allow the inclusion of water set aside for commonwealth use in the ACT to be considered as an available part of the ACT’s water resources.

This transfer has four important advantages for the territory. Firstly, it will bring all water in the ACT under one management system, reducing the possibility of double allocation of the one resource and the duplication of management systems. Secondly, it will ensure all water users in the ACT are subject to the same planning and administrative controls, again ensuring the ongoing sustainable management of the resource. Thirdly, it will bring all water use under the national water initiative compliant planning regime, a requirement of the commonwealth’s own water management legislation. Fourthly, it will allow all water use in the ACT to be fully and, for the first time, accurately reported for regional and national water accounting purposes.

Alongside the advantages of this management transfer, the bill provides further opportunities to improve water management in the territory. The commonwealth proposes to insert new provisions in the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Regulations 1989 so that the Water Resources Act 2007 will bind the Crown, although without the offence and enforcement provisions. As the commonwealth will not be bound to the offence enforcement provisions, additional subsections have been added to sections of the ACT Water Resources Act to apply the requirements of the act to all persons, including the commonwealth.

The commonwealth will retain the management of Lake Burley Griffin, including the management of activities on the lake, such as boating and events in and on the lake, the management of the quality of the water in the lake and the management of the lake foreshore. The transfer will result in commonwealth users becoming subject to water-related fees and charges that will result in a small net increase to ACT revenue of approximately $416,000 in the first financial year. This will result from the commonwealth purchase of ACT water entitlements for existing users, with a further $140,000 annually thereafter from the water abstraction charge on water used.

An MOU between the ACT and the commonwealth will be developed to clarify issues not appropriate for inclusion in legislation prior to the commencement of the act. I thank members for their support of this important piece of legislation and commend it to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


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