Farm Debt Mediation Amendment (Water Access Licences) Bill
Debate resumed from 19 October 2005.
Mr THOMAS GEORGE (Lismore) [12.53 p.m.]: The Opposition will support the amendments contained in the Farm Debt Mediation Amendment (Water Access Licences) Bill. We note that the bill makes small amendments to the Farm Debt Mediation Act, expanding the definition of "farming property" to include access licences, as defined under the Water Management Act 2000, where the licence is used on a farm. The amendments will restore the original intent of the operation of the Act. The amendments also reflect recent changes to the Water Management Act 2000 that provided for the creation of security interest over water access licences. The Opposition supports the bill.
Ms ALISON MEGARRITY (Menai—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.54 p.m.], in reply: I thank the honourable member for Lismore for his contribution to the debate. The Farm Debt Mediation Amendment (Water Access Licences) Bill amends the Farm Debt Mediation Act 1994. It expands the definition of "farm property" under the Act to include access licences as defined under the Water Management Act 2000. Amendments introduced by the Water Management Act have created a separate water access licence that can be traded in isolation of the land. This change means that water licences are no longer attached to the land. Therefore, water licences are no longer within the definition of "farm property" under the Farm Debt Mediation Act.
Without this amendment, a creditor would be able to take enforcement action against a debt secured by a water access licence used for farming purposes without first offering the farmer the option of mediation. This would have a significant and unintended impact on farmers who are struggling to repay farm debts. This bill will restore the original intent and operation of the Farm Debt Mediation Act. It will ensure that the farm debt mediation program will once again apply to debts secured by all forms of farm property, not only including farm land and farm machinery but also water access licences used for farming. I commend the bill to the House.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time and passed through remaining stages.
[Madam Acting-Speaker (Ms Marianne Saliba) left the chair at 12.56 p.m. The House resumed at 2.15 p.m.]