Page 2874 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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Clause 5.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (11.16): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 2939]. I table a supplementary explanatory statement to the government's amendments.

The provisions of this amendment deal with the moratorium and deal with the refinement that I just alluded to. The Water Resources Amendment Bill allows the minister to declare a moratorium by means of a disallowable instrument. With this amendment, the moratorium is enabled through clauses in the bill itself. Consequently, this change provides the Assembly, subject to the passage of the bill, with the authority to instigate the moratorium. The minister would no longer be delegated the power to declare that moratorium. The issue of inappropriate delegation of vesting power raised by the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs disappears as the power to declare a moratorium would no longer be delegated to the minister.

The privative clauses that were in section 63B are no longer required and have been removed. These privative clauses were required to ensure that the ministerial decision to instigate a moratorium could take effect without the uncertainty that would arise if the decision were legally challenged. The removal of the clauses addresses the concern of the committee in relation to trespass on personal rights and liberties.

Another matter that has been considered in the amendment is whether the rights of individuals with proceedings before a court or tribunal would be curtailed by the moratorium. The amended bill would not curtail the rights of these individuals. The amendment includes a series of clauses in section 63B to ensure that any such matters that were initiated before commencement of the moratorium would be exempted from the moratorium provisions.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.19): The opposition will be opposing the amendment and the proposed new sections if this clause is amended. This amendment, rather than putting off instituting a moratorium for some time, is allowing the Assembly to decide that next week there will be a two-year moratorium on the issuing of licences for bores. We have to ask whether the community has been sufficiently prepared for the institution of this moratorium. I think the answer is no.

I asked the officials on Tuesday morning what public consultation had gone on, and what had been done to alert the community to the fact that there will be a moratorium The answer came back, “Mrs Dunne, when the minister introduced this bill into this place we put out a press release.” I asked, “Have you done anything since then to notify people that this moratorium is coming into place?” “No, Mrs Dunne, we haven’t.”

This is an open and accountable government. This minister, as the Leader of the Opposition, spent a whole lot of time saying just how open and accountable a Stanhope government would be. I suspect that not even the broadest interpretation of open and accountable government would say that one simple press release on an esoteric subject like the Water Resources Amendment Bill, which probably did not even get a run in the paper because it was probably seen as—I was going to say dry—a bit too esoteric to be

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