12 March 1991 - Current
WATER AMENDMENT (WATER TRADING) BILL 2014
6 February 2014
|ASSEMBLY||Statement of Compatibility||WALSH|
WATER AMENDMENT (WATER TRADING) BILL 2014
Mr WALSH (Minister for Water) tabled following statement in accordance with Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006: In accordance with section 28 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the 'charter act'), I make this statement of compatibility with respect to the Water Amendment (Water Trading) Bill 2014. In my opinion, the Water Amendment (Water Trading) Bill 2014, as introduced to the Legislative Assembly, is compatible with human rights as set out in the charter act. I base my opinion on the reasons outlined in this statement. Overview of bill The bill amends the Water Act 1989 (the Water Act) to promote Victoria's compliance with certain requirements of the water trading rules set out in chapter 12 of the Murray-Darling Basin plan. It will do this by removing limitations in relation to the classes of persons to whom an allocation of water under water shares, bulk entitlements and environmental entitlements may be assigned, and to whom a limited term transfer of a water share may be given. The bill will also remove indirect restrictions on trade by removing limitations on who the Victorian water register can record for holding allocations of water under a water share. It will enable, subject to the minister's approval, a holder of a water share to give a standing direction to the relevant water corporation for the whole of the right to the future water allocations under that share to be held by any other person for an ongoing period until the owner of the water share revokes the standing direction. The person holding a standing direction, being the holder of an allocation bank account in the water register, will then be able to assign water allocations they receive to other persons, subject to the minister's approval and trading rules. Human rights issues 1. Human rights protected by the charter act that are relevant to the bill Right to privacy Section 13(a) of the charter act provides that a person has the right not to have his or her privacy unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with. An interference with privacy will not be unlawful or arbitrary if it is permitted by a law that operates in a reasonable, just and proportionate manner to the end sought. The bill will provide that a holder of a water share will be able to issue a standing direction to a water authority nominating a person to whom the whole of the right to future water allocations under that share is to be transferred. A number of provisions in the bill are relevant to the right to privacy insofar as they provide for a water authority to establish and maintain records and information regarding a person nominated in such a standing direction to be recorded on the water register established under part 5A of the Water Act. Under these provisions, details such as the name of a person nominated in a standing direction and any other information the water authority considers necessary will be recorded by the water authority on the water register. The information will be subject to the requirements of the Information Privacy Act 2000, for example, personal information should only be collected by a water authority where this information is necessary for one or more of its functions or activities -- information privacy principle 1 of the Information Privacy Act 2000. To enable the water authority to, for example, be able to effectively monitor the take of water by a nominated person, it will be necessary for a water authority to record the name of the nominated person and any other information considered necessary on the water register.
Statement of compatibility
The bill will provide for this information to be exempt from being made publicly available. Maintaining information in the water register is designed to assist the minister to undertake the continuous program of assessment of available water resources in Victoria under part 3 of the Water Act. The recording of information is consistent with the primary purpose of the water register to ensure the sound record keeping of all water-related entitlements and allocations. As a result of these amendments, the water register will continue to provide a complete set of records and information in relation to the allocation of water resources in Victoria. Given the limited manner in which this information will be able to be used and the fact that such information will not be made publicly available, the bill is compatible with the right to privacy. Property rights Section 20 of the charter act provides that a person must not be deprived of his or her property other than in accordance with law. A number of provisions in the bill are relevant to the holding of personal property. The bill will remove limitations on the classes of persons to whom an allocation of water under water shares, bulk entitlements and environmental entitlements may be assigned, and to whom a limited term transfer of a water share may be given. Lifting the constraint on who a holder of a water entitlement may trade with provides the holder with greater flexibility to manage and control their entitlement. As there will be no deprivation of property, the right to property is not relevant to the bill. Peter Walsh, MLA, Minister for Water
WATER AMENDMENT (WATER TRADING) BILL 2014 Second reading Mr WALSH (Minister for Water) -- I move: That this bill be now read a second time. Speech as follows incorporated into Hansard in accordance with resolution of house: On 5 June 2013, the Victorian government and the commonwealth government signed an intergovernmental agreement on implementing water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin and an associated funding agreement to support the implementation of the basin plan. These two agreements settle the responsibilities and costs of putting the Murray-Darling Basin plan into action. The intergovernmental agreement reaffirmed the Victorian government's commitment to removing any remaining restrictions on water trade in accordance with the Murray-Darling Basin plan. The bill gives effect to this commitment. Both the intergovernmental agreement and its associated funding agreement work together to support cost-effective implementation of the basin plan in Victoria, recognising the dual interests of balancing the need to improve basin health and continuing to sustainably grow our irrigation-based farming communities and food production industries. For Victoria, the intergovernmental agreement has secured: $14.3 million over three years to develop offset projects to reduce the volume of water required to be recovered from productive use under the basin plan; $47.4 million over eight years for start-up costs associated with implementing the basin plan; and a commonwealth commitment of $25 million from its $100 million Murray-Darling Basin regional economic diversification program, for assistance to communities affected by the basin plan. The intergovernmental agreement validates Victoria's longstanding view that a healthy basin can be achieved alongside sustainable, productive and competitive irrigation. This bill relates to chapter 12 of the basin plan which sets water trading rules to govern the operation of water trading activity in the Murray-Darling Basin. Chapter 12 of the basin plan is due to commence on 1 July 2014. The basin plan trading rules set out in chapter 12 require the removal of restrictions on who can participate in trade of allocations of water and tradeable water entitlements. Section 35 of the commonwealth Water Act imposes a duty on all agencies of a basin state, including ministers, to act consistently with the basin plan. This bill will amend Victoria's Water Act to improve the efficiency and scope of water trade. The bill removes limitations under the state Water Act relating to the classes of person to whom an allocation of water under a water share, bulk entitlement and environmental entitlement may be assigned and to whom a limited term transfer of a water share may be given. The bill will also remove indirect restrictions on trade by removing limitations on who the water register can record as holding allocations of water under a water share. In practice, an owner of a water share will be able to issue a standing direction to a water authority nominating another person to receive the right to future water allocations under that share until such time as the water share owner revokes the standing direction. Introducing standing directions reduces the red tape and the administrative costs for the ongoing assignment of future water allocations. The bill will create greater flexibility for how the owner of a water share, controls and manages their water share. Importantly, the owner of the water share may revoke the standing direction at any time. If the owner of the water share chooses to divide, consolidate, cancel or surrender the water share the standing direction will be cancelled. This bill is an important practical step in giving effect to Victoria's commitment to implement the commonwealth basin plan. Whilst meeting the required objective to remove the very small number of remaining restrictions on trade in Victoria, the bill does this in a manner that supports and encourages water trading in its role as a valuable tool for Victorian agriculture and the industries and communities that it supports. I commend the bill to the house.
Debate adjourned on motion of Ms GREEN (Yan Yean). Debate adjourned until Thursday, 20 February.