Tag Archives: water act

Faked GDP, Faked Budgets, Faked Legal Advice – Nothing To See Here

28 Mar

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, 28 March 2012 (my emphasis added):

Government response keeps Murray-Darling in the dark on the Water Act

The Labor government has once again refused to release legal advice on the Water Act in defiance of the recommendations of a Senate inquiry.

Last year, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee found that the provisions of the Water Act create a legal framework where “environmental considerations can be, and are, given substantially more ‘weight’ than social and economic considerations.”

Even the Greens, in their dissenting report, admitted the same stating that “the MDBA and the Minister are required to give environmental considerations precedence in developing the Basin Plan.”

The difference is that the Greens agree with this unbalanced outcome, the Committee recommended the Act be changed to fix it and that all of the government’s legal advice be released.

The Committee’s recommendations were based on legal advice from many sources including an ‘in camera’ briefing from former MDBA chair, Mike Taylor, submissions from Professor George Williams, Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales, and Professor John Briscoe of Harvard University.

The government’s response to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s Water Act inquiry has also called into question the validity of the summary legal advice the government has previously released.

So far the government has released just 10 pages of the more than 1000 pages of legal advice they have received on the Water Act.

In its response today, the government claims that the summary legal advice it has made public is “distinguished” from other legal advice because it was prepared on the understanding that it would be made public.

This calls into question whether the summary advice is a full and accurate reflection of the other advice the government has received.

The Murray-Darling is too important for the government to keep it in the dark. It must release all of the legal advice before the basin plan is finalised.

The Murray-Darling is home to 2.1 million Australians, provides water for 1 million others and produces 40 per cent of Australia’s agricultural output, including 9 of every 10 Australian oranges.

Over the past two years, we have seen that the Rudd-Gillard-Swan ALP government has faked GDP, and faked budgets, by becoming adept in the “dark arts” and “using some of what are now  the standard tricks in order to (in the words of former Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner) “maximise political appearances”.

Now, thanks to Senator Joyce, we see that they will happily fake legal advice as well.

Funnily enough, the ALP and the Greens have recently expressed “confidence” that their carbon tax CO2 derivatives scam legislation is legally sound, and does not breach the Constitution.


Wouldn’t it be interesting to see their actual legal advice.

You know.

The advice they have not released to the public.

What would be even more interesting is to see their legislation challenged in the High Court.

For that, it seems our fate is in the hands of big-promising-non-delivering Coalition State Governments.

And National Living Treasure, Clive Palmer.

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, http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/08/03/364465_national-news.html

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, http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/ec_ctte/estimates/add_1011/sewpac/mdba.pdf and http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/ec_ctte/estimates/add_1011/sewpac/program_4-1.pdf

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee 2011, A Balancing Act: provisions of the Water Act 2007, June, http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/legcon_ctte/provisionswateract2007/report/index.htm


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.


Frogs First, People Second

18 May

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, 18 May 2011:

Frogs first, people second

The CEO of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Rob Freeman, confirmed today that economic, social and environmental factors are not given equal treatment under the Water Act in evidence given to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee today.

SENATOR BARNETT: Is it your understanding that the Water Act does not, I repeat does not, require the consideration of environment, social and economic considerations but only allows for the consideration of the environment, social and economic considerations?

MR FREEMAN: The Act requires the consideration of economic and social factors as well as environmental.

SENATOR BARNETT: But not on an equal basis?

MR FREEMAN: That’s correct.

“Both the former Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority have confirmed that the Act cannot deliver a Basin plan that compromises environmental outcomes based on social, economic or other considerations. That runs completely counter to the commitment by Labor and the Coalition to deliver a triple bottom line” said Senator Barnaby Joyce today.

“It’s abundantly clear that the Act as it stands determines environmental water flows first and then looks after people later. Last year the Guide produced a plan on that basis and there was a virtual riot. If we don’t change the Act, we won’t change the outcome. If we don’t change the map, we won’t change our destination.

“Barrister Josephine Kelly summed this up most succinctly when she gave a straight answer:

SENATOR JOYCE: What happens if there was a town, let’s say there was an environmental asset, I don’t know let’s call it a swamp and in the swamp there is a precious frog and just before the swamp with the precious frog is a town that has a rice mill. You say well the water that has to go to that swamp is 10 GL but that’s the amount of water unfortunately that we need for the rice mill. So now we have got a choice between the rice mill or the Ramsar convention area with the frogs. Who is going to win, the rice mill or the frogs?

MS KELLY: Under the Act, the frogs.

“While Labor won’t come clean with their legal advice, it’s clear now anyway that the Act needs to be rebalanced.

“If Labor won’t commit to make a serious effort to fix the problem, how can the 2 million people of the Basin trust them?”

More Information – Matthew Canavan 0458 709 433

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