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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1438 ..


MR CORBELL (11.27): Mr Speaker, I move:

That, notwithstanding the provisions of standing order 174:

(1) the Water Resources Bill 1998, together with the amendments circulated by the Minister for Urban Services and Ms Tucker be referred to the Standing Committee on Urban Services; and

(2) on the Committee presenting its report on the Bill to the Assembly the resumption of debate on the question "That this Bill be agreed to in principle" be set down as an order of the day for the next sitting.

I urge members to support this referral this morning. The Water Resources Bill is a significant piece of legislation. It is legislation which has quite wide-ranging consequences for the management of the Territory's water resources. It deals with a wide range of issues, and I would say it is of similar importance to the Environment Protection Bill which became law in this place last year. Like the Environment Protection Act, this Bill has significant direct consequences for a range of individuals in our community, particularly those people who use water in very large volumes. They need to have some opportunity to discuss this issue through an Assembly inquiry.

There are also issues in this Bill related to competition policy and the trading of water. Noting the Assembly's considerable concern with the consequences and implications of competition policy, I think it would be inappropriate for this Assembly to vote on this Bill without the benefit of a wide-ranging and significant Assembly inquiry. I would envisage that that inquiry with my colleagues on the Urban Services Committee would deal with a wide range of issues and would seek the input from as many people as possible on the consequences of this legislation so that everyone in this community has the opportunity to be fully informed of it before it comes to the floor of this Assembly for debate and presumably for passage.

Mr Speaker, the inquiry into the Environment Protection Act conducted by the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment in the last Assembly was an exemplary inquiry. I believe it achieved consensus on all bar two or three issues. Those issues then came to the floor of this Assembly for debate and for resolution. During that inquiry, which I was fortunate enough to be part of, officers of Environment ACT provided public briefings to interested members of the community on the consequences of that Bill. I would hope that my colleagues on the Urban Services Committee would see a similar opportunity in relation to this Bill because this Bill, as I have already indicated, has impacts just as wide-ranging as the environment protection legislation had.

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