Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3092 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
There are a couple of other points in the Bill that I would like to mention. The first is a concern that has been raised by rural leaseholders in relation to rights to water and rights to flows, and how those could potentially change. The rural lessees have reasonably pointed out that they are concerned that, when a new lease agreement comes up for renewal, their existing flows or rights to water may no longer be available to them. The environment protection people and Environment ACT have acknowledged that this is an important issue, but that rural lessees do not have an enormous amount to worry about, in that existing rights to water will be maintained but, when a new lease is negotiated, as it is with a whole range of other conditions, it is quite possible that rights to water will be renegotiated.
This, I think, is a sensible measure in that it is required to get the Territory across the very broad range of complex issues associated with managing the Territory's water resources and determining the correct level of environmental flows and a range of other issues. So on that point there is a concern, but we think it has been dealt with adequately by the Government.
The second point relates to the cost structure for the charging of water, particularly the issue raised by golf courses and other users of large amounts of water. Again, as to the concerns raised about how that price structure will be set, we are confident that the responses provided by Environment ACT and the Minister in this regard meet those concerns. Again, we think that the need to establish effective control and management of the Territory's water resources outweighs the initial concerns of those bulk users of water such as golf courses. The Labor Opposition will be supporting significant sections of this Bill and we will certainly pass it in principle, but we will not be supporting the allocations regime when we get to the detail stage of this debate today.
MR KAINE (4.10): I support this Bill in principle because I believe that the legislation to manage the water resources of the Territory is something that we badly need to protect our resources into the future. The Bill, however, raises several issues that I believe need rectification, in particular the lack of effective arrangements for requiring consultation and the need to link administrative elements to a formal properly connected network, and I will deal with those issues.
I am pleased to note that the Government has agreed to amend the Bill in response to the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Urban Services and that there will be prior public consultation on the environmental flow guidelines. I note that those guidelines will also come before an Assembly committee before the Minister publishes his determination in respect of them. Most of all, I am pleased that the Government will provide a consultation process involving rural lessees and ACTEW, but I do not think that that goes far enough. Later I will refer to situations in which I see a need for consultations with rural lessees with respect to particular water storage and use proposals.
The Bill as presently drafted contains a number of drafting matters which I believe require attention. I have already handed a list of those to the Minister for his consideration. I am prepared to leave it to him as to whether or not there are errors there that need to be rectified by amendment, either now or in the future.