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12 March 1991 - Current

 
WATER AMENDMENT (WATER TRADING) BILL 2014
Page 223
6 February 2014
ASSEMBLY Statement of Compatibility WALSH
                   WATER AMENDMENT (WATER TRADING) BILL 2014

Statement of compatibility

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.
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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.


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Debate adjourned on motion of Ms GREEN (Yan Yean). Debate adjourned until Thursday, 20 February.