Barnaby: Government Must End Uncertainty On Water Act

3 Aug

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, 3 August 2011 (my emphasis added):

Reports today suggest that the draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been delayed because the “MDBA’s own lawyers had forced a delay as they found “inconsistencies” between the draft and the Federal Water Act 2007.”

It’s time for the Government to release all of the legal advice on the Water Act so it can remove the wall of uncertainty that is facing Basin communities.

Last year Minister Burke only released a “summary” of this advice to the Parliament. Only 10 pages of advice were released even though the government and the MDBA have received 946 pages of advice from the Australian Government Solicitor.

A Senate inquiry earlier this year found that “the Water Act does not provide adequate certainty regarding how water resources should be managed under the Basin Plan” and that under the Act “environmental considerations can be, and are, given substantially more ‘weight’ than social and economic considerations.”

Even the Greens recognised this in their dissenting report arguing that:

The legal evidence to the inquiry is clear that, given the reliance on the external affairs power as well as the stated objects of the Water Act, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and the Minister are required to give environmental considerations precedence in developing the Basin Plan.

The latest delay in the basin plan means a continuation of uncertainty for Basin residents, an uncertainty which prevents them from planning and investing for the future. An uncertainty which brings business to a halt.

But worse than this latest uncertainty would be a continuation of legal challenges even after the Plan is released.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to get the Act right now and end the uncertainty.

More information – Matthew Canavan 0458 709433

Hunt, P. 2011, ‘Basin draft delayed’, The Weekly Times, August 3,

Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications Legislation Committee 2011, Answers to questions on notice, Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities portfolio Additional Estimates, February, 4:MDBA, question 31 and 4.1:WRD, question 67, and

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee 2011, A Balancing Act: provisions of the Water Act 2007, June,


This practice of releasing only very limited (“summary”) information on vital policy matters, and withholding some (or all) of the truly pertinent information, has become something of a habit for this government.

Consider their track record on the biggest, most controversial policy in the nation – their “carbon pricing mechanism”.

And in particular, the deliberate lies and blatant obfuscations presented to the public, in absence of any actual detailed information about the so-called “500 biggest polluting companies”.

Leaving it to concerned citizens such as your humble blogger, to research and expose their gross deception in articles (and spreadsheets) such as this –

The “500 Biggest Polluters” Exposed – Everything The Government Is Not Telling You.


One Response to “Barnaby: Government Must End Uncertainty On Water Act”

  1. JMD August 3, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    A difficult issue this water thing, since I guess if the rain falls on your property then you probably think you own it but constructing major dams, like Cubbie Station & probably others, prevents floodwaters that have been moving downstream for millennia from flowing.

    I’ve advocated for years that the whole Murray Darling Basin should be its own state.

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