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FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO REVIEW THE 2007 WATER ACT

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The Federal Government will move swiftly to reduce reporting requirements for water users following a review of the Water Act 2007.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Water, Simon Birmingham, today handed down the year-long expert review of the Act, which contains 28 recommendations for reform.

None of the recommendations will affect the implementation or direction of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, according to Senator Birmingham.

“The report is very clear. The Basin Plan is a good reform and one that’s in transition.

“The recommendations look to strengthen the Plan’s implementation process and give some more time for implementation, ” he said.

The expert panel which compiled the review was made up of Eamon Moran, Peter Anderson, Gavin McMahon and Dr Steve Morton.

They also recommended postponing the first five-year review of the MDBA’s environmental watering plan and the 2026 Basin Plan review.

Senator Birmingham says it makes sense to give the Plan sufficient time to operate before conducting a review.

The report recommends allowing the tightly regulated Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, the largest owner of water in the Basin, more flexibility to achieve its environmental objectives.

Currently, the CEWH is only allowed to trade water if it’s for a specific environmental purpose, and it’s prohibited from trading water to generate revenue.

Senator Birmingham says giving the CEWH more flexibility will help it achieve better outcomes for the environment.

“Water recovery has been undertaken as part of the Basin Plan for the purposes of getting environmental sustainability,” he said.

“If there are ways of improving the environmental returns from that water, then we should carefully consider them.

“But that will be subject to very close consultation with all relevant stakeholders.”

The Senator will consult with industry groups in the coming months before formally responding to the recommendations.

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Major recommendations

  • The Act be amended to provide for the next scheduled review of the Basin Plan in 2026, with 10-yearly reviews thereafter.
  • The program for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the Basin Plan includes five-yearly reviews of its social and economic impact in the Murray–Darling Basin.
  • A water access entitlement holder should be fully compensated for any reduction in the market value of the entitlement that is reasonably attributable to the Commonwealth share of the diversion limit reduction.
  • Section 106(2) of the Act be amended to allow trade revenue to be used for other environmental activities in addition to water acquisitions to maximise environmental outcomes from the use of Commonwealth environmental water.
  • The panel recommends a separate review of the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules, the Water Charge (Termination Fees) Rules and the Water Charge (Planning and Management Information) Rules. The review should be undertaken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in consultation with industry and Basin State governments.

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Henry Sapiecha

December 19th, 2014
Topic: GOVERNMENT, REGULATIONS ACTS, WATER & IRRIGATION Tags: , , ,

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