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AGAINST – Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023 - Second Reading - Oppose the bill

The majority voted against an amendment to the usual second reading motion, which is "that the bill be read a second time" - parliamentary jargon for agreeing with the main idea of the bill. The amendment was introduced by Lyne MP David Gillespie (Nationals).

Motion text

That all words after "whilst" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"declining to give the Bill a second reading, the House:

(1) is concerned that the legislation represents the worst solution on national water reform;

(2) notes that the following is needed for national water reforms in the Basin to be successful:

(a) a cooperative and constructive approach with all Basin State Governments to assist water reform and investment in urban and rural water infrastructure;

(b) bipartisan support;

(c) proper face to face consultation with key stakeholders in the Murray Darling Basin, including all water users, farmers, water scientists, environment groups and the broader community to ensure the adoption of a Basin Plan which has at its heart a triple bottom line approach which optimises social, economic, and environmental outcomes.

(3) criticises the Government for failing to consult the Basin Communities Committee which is the legislated voice for people living in the Murray Darling Basin, on the Water Amendment (Restoring our Rivers) Bill 2023".

What does this 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.


Date and time: 10:02 AM on 2023-10-18
Allegra Spender's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 49
Total number of "no" votes: 79
Total number of abstentions: 23
Related bill: Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023

Adapted from information made available by

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