WATER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL
Consideration of the Legislative Council's amendments.
Schedule of amendments referred to in message of 30 November
No. 1 Pages 3 to 5, schedule 1, line 1 on page 3 to line 26 on page 5. Omit all words on those lines.
No. 2 Page 9, schedule 2 , proposed section 22BB, line 15. After "conservation", insert ", but does
not include any such work that, in the opinion of the Ministerial Corporation, is used for environmental purposes".
No. 3 Page 13, schedule 3 , proposed section 205. Insert after line 32:
(2) A harvestable rights order is to give the owners of land in the area to which the order applies a right, without obtaining an entitlement under Part 2:
(a) to capture a minimum of 10 percent of the average rainwater run-off of the area to which the order applies, and
(b) to construct and use impoundments and other works for the purpose of capturing that rainwater run-off.
No. 4 Page 14, schedule 3 , proposed section 206, lines 18 to 22. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:
(a) subject to section 205 (2), the amount of the average rainwater run-off in any period that may be captured by owners of land and the method by which that average rainwater run-off is to be calculated,
(b) a description of the area to which the order applies (the catchment area), being the area in respect of which the average rainwater run-off is to be calculated,
(Strathfield - Minister for Police) [1.26 p.m.]: I move:
Mr D. L. PAGE
That the Committee agree to the Legislative Council's amendments.
(Ballina) [1.27 p.m.]: Significant among the amendments is that which relates to riparian rights. Section 7A of the Act was removed on the basis that it provided for riparian rights to be not only modified but also eliminated for any reason without compensation. The Opposition was strongly of the view that such a provision was inappropriate. In fact, under section 7 (2) of the Water Act the Minister has the power to modify riparian rights in the event of water wastage or a shortage or threatened shortage of water.
The Opposition was of the view that the power to vary riparian rights was present already in the legislation and it was a case of overkill, essentially, for the Department of Land and Water Conservation to be given the right to modify and to eliminate riparian rights for any reason, even those unrelated to water use, without the payment of compensation. We took that view because riparian rights impact on the value of properties and we believe that if this Government is going to do things that devalue properties and punish people it should compensate those people for it.
The Opposition was pleased that that amendment was carried in the upper House, and takes credit for that. We thank the New South Wales Farmers Association for its input into that matter. The other amendment related to harvestable right. The Opposition took the view - as flagged in my contribution to the second reading debate - that if the harvestable right is to be worth anything a minimum amount must be stipulated. It was proposed by the Minister in his second reading speech that the harvestable right would be 10 per cent, but the legislation left that open. There was no mention in the legislation of 10 per cent.
The effect was that the harvestable right could be changed at will for any reason whatsoever, and that would leave land-holders and farmers with no security of harvestable right. The ridiculous situation could occur of someone building a dam that would hold the 10 per cent harvestable right only to find two years later that the department had decided to reduce the figure to 8 per cent. Those dams that were legal would suddenly become illegal. Farmers would then have to reduce them by putting pipes in the dam walls, and it would become an administrative nightmare. The Opposition believes there should be a minimum harvestable right - if there is to be such a right at all - and we are pleased that the amendment proposed by the Coalition in the Upper House was carried.
In the end the amendment was supported by the Government also, because it could see the commonsense in what we were saying. We are pleased with the amendments that have been made and we look forward to further developments in relation to riparian rights. The Government has indicated that it will introduce new legislation in the autumn session of Parliament. The Coalition is prepared to be flexible in respect of riparian rights to allow for the protection of existing riparian rights users, but it does not agree that they should be eliminated, and it certainly does not agree that they should be eliminated without compensation.
Motion agreed to.
Legislative Council’s amendments agreed to.
Resolution reported from the Committee and report adopted.
Message sent to the Legislative Council advising it of the resolution.