Water (Commonwealth Powers) Bill

30 Oct 2008 archivespeech

This speech is to indicate that the Liberal Party will be supporting the motion to not insist on the amendments regarding the Water (Commonwealth Powers) Bill. The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK expresses that the Liberal Party continue to support the sentiments behind the honourable member's amendments but will not be insisting.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In relation to this definition of 'critical human water needs', which appears at line 19, page 2 of the bill, paragraph (b), to which the minister referred in his comments, provides:

Those non-human consumption requirements that a failure to meet would cause prohibitively high social, economic or national security costs;

As the minister stated, this is quite broad. From my recollection, the minister mentioned that that could anticipate permanent plantings. Could he provide some other examples of what this provision anticipates?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Is that anticipating a disaster scenario? Is that what it is intended to cover?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I would like to take this opportunity before we break for lunch to place the Liberal Party's formal position before the chamber and perhaps to give the government some time, because I think that many matters that have been raised this afternoon do relate to legal issues. I place on the record at this point that our water and environment spokesperson, the member for MacKillop, stated in his contribution that this bill had been brought in with indecent haste, and I think that we see the fruits of the manner in which all non-government members have been provided with this bill.

The member for MacKillop is still consulting with stakeholders to gain some better understanding of the implications of this amendment. I request that the government formally table some legal advice to the effect that at this stage it has been verbal, because in our view this amendment has a great deal of merit, and we will be supporting it in a division in order that these matters can continue to be discussed. I think that we are all very well aware of the political risk, namely, that if this is inserted other states may well seek to insert their own matters.

However, South Australia is the most vulnerable state in this system. For that reason and because some 10 per cent of citrus groves are already dead in the Riverland, and while we have seen earlier this year floodwaters in Queensland a significant amount of which have not reached the system, this matter ought to be given some greater consideration. We will support the honourable member's amendment and, if the government wishes to make a case (and we do not believe that it has made such a case thus far) for not supporting it, then we would urge it to do so post-haste

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The Liberal Party will be supporting the motion to not insist on these amendments, and I will briefly outline our reasons. During the period from when we first placed our position on the record and in the meantime, a couple of us have spoken to the community liaison, the Hon. Dean Brown, who provided the explanation that unfortunately we did not receive on the record in this place. He has outlined the difference between critical human water needs and high security water needs and explained that, if we were to insist on the amendments, some of that water would be the equivalent of what is nationally high security water. We also do not wish to hold up the passage of the bill. We continue to support the sentiments behind the honourable member's amendments but we will not be insisting.