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ABSTAINED – Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023 - Consideration of Senate Message - Agree with Senate amendments and so pass bill

The majority voted in favour of a motion to agree with the Senate amendments, which means the bill has now been passed in both house of parliament in its final form and so can now become law.

What are the Senate amendments?

Several amendments were agreed in the Senate, with the text of these amendments available here. Some of these amendments have a relevant explanatory memorandum, which is a political document that is prepared by the proposing party. You can find these memoranda on the bills homepage by matching the title of the amendment with the relevant explanatory memorandum. For example, the first amendment listed is labelled "sheet ZC243 revised" and can be matched with the Supplementary explanatory memorandum relating to sheet ZC243.

What does the bill do?

According to the bills digest (which is prepared by the non-partisan parliamentary library):

  • The Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023 seeks to amend the Water Act 2007 and the Basin Plan 2012 to implement legislative aspects of the Agreement of Murray-Darling Basin Ministers to deliver the Basin Plan in full agreed by the Commonwealth and Basin States (except Victoria) on 22 August 2023.

  • The Bill broadens the activities that may be funded by the Water for the Environment Special Account, repeals the limit on the Commonwealth’s purchase of water access entitlements, and extends several timeframes for delivery of water recovery projects.

  • The Bill also seeks to amend the Water Act, Basin Plan and Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CC Act) to implement some recommendations of the Water market reform: final roadmap report. That report examined and mapped out a ‘phased, practical and cost-effective plan’ (p. 2) for responding to the recommendations of the ACCC’s Murray-Darling Basin water markets inquiry.

  • Water market reforms proposed include a Water Market Intermediaries Code, civil penalties for insider trading and market manipulation, and strengthening information transparency mechanisms.

  • The Explanatory Memorandum (pp. 7–8) indicates that the Department undertook 2 separate consultation processes:

  • in relation to delivery of the Basin Plan, a general consultation on community ideas for delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

  • in relation to water market reforms, a targeted consultation with key stakeholders, including by providing an Exposure Draft of proposed provisions.

  • While stakeholders have generally welcomed the extension of key timeframes for delivery of water recovery targets, farming and irrigator groups remain strongly opposed to the purchase of water access entitlements by the Commonwealth and voiced concerns about negative social and economic impacts on Basin communities.

  • The Bill has been referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 8 November 2023.

Summary

Date and time: 1:36 PM on 2023-11-30
Allegra Spender's vote: Abstained
Total number of "aye" votes: 86
Total number of "no" votes: 52
Total number of abstentions: 13
Related bill: Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023

Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au

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