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senate vote 2013-02-06#1

Edited by system

on 2014-10-07 16:17:57

Title

Description

  • The majority voted against a [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2013-02-06.6.2 Nationals amendment] introduced by Senator [http://publicwhip-test.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Barnaby_Joyce&mpc=Senate&house=senate Barnaby Joyce], the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.
  • The amendment would have omitted paragraph 86AD(2)(b) from the bill. This paragraph states that: ''(2) Amounts standing to the credit of the Water for the Environment Special Account may be debited for any of the following purposes: ... (b) purchasing water access rights in relation to Basin water resources for the purpose of furthering the object of this Part''.
  • This paragraph relates to a project to increase the available environmental water in the Murray-Darling Basin by 450 Gigalitres. Senator Joyce explains that this amendment "is to make sure that we remove from this extra 450 gigs the capacity for it to be attained through buyback".(Read the rest of Senator Joyce's explanation of the amendment and the associated debate [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?id=2013-02-06.6.1 here]. ) According to the Department of the Environment website: "Water buybacks obtain water for the environment from irrigators who offer their water entitlement for sale".(That website is available [http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/water/rural-water/restoring-balance-murray-darling-basin here]. )
  • Background to the bill
  • The bill(A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r4925 here]. ) was introduced to establish an Environment Special Account to fund projects that protect and restore environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) and protect water dependent biodiversity of the MDB.(Read more about the bill in this [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/billsdgs/2073890/upload_binary/2073890.pdf;fileType=application/pdf bills digest] (696 KB).) The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.
  • References
  • The majority voted against a [Nationals amendment](http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2013-02-06.6.2) introduced by Senator [Barnaby Joyce](http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Barnaby_Joyce&mpc=Senate&house=senate), the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.
  • The amendment would have omitted paragraph 86AD(2)(b) from the bill. This paragraph states that: _(2) Amounts standing to the credit of the Water for the Environment Special Account may be debited for any of the following purposes: ... (b) purchasing water access rights in relation to Basin water resources for the purpose of furthering the object of this Part_.
  • This paragraph relates to a project to increase the available environmental water in the Murray-Darling Basin by 450 Gigalitres. Senator Joyce explains that this amendment "is to make sure that we remove from this extra 450 gigs the capacity for it to be attained through buyback".(Read the rest of Senator Joyce's explanation of the amendment and the associated debate [here](http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?id=2013-02-06.6.1). ) According to the Department of the Environment website: "Water buybacks obtain water for the environment from irrigators who offer their water entitlement for sale".(That website is available [here](http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/water/rural-water/restoring-balance-murray-darling-basin). )
  • Background to the bill
  • The bill(A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available [here](http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r4925). ) was introduced to establish an Environment Special Account to fund projects that protect and restore environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) and protect water dependent biodiversity of the MDB.(Read more about the bill in this [bills digest](http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/billsdgs/2073890/upload_binary/2073890.pdf;fileType=application/pdf) (696 KB).) The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.
  • References
senate vote 2013-02-06#1

Edited by system

on 2014-10-07 16:16:02

Title

Description

  • The majority voted against a [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2013-02-06.6.2 Nationals amendment] introduced by Senator [http://publicwhip-test.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Barnaby_Joyce&mpc=Senate&house=senate Barnaby Joyce], the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.
  • The amendment would have omitted paragraph 86AD(2)(b) from the bill. This paragraph states that: ''(2) Amounts standing to the credit of the Water for the Environment Special Account may be debited for any of the following purposes: ... (b) purchasing water access rights in relation to Basin water resources for the purpose of furthering the object of this Part''.
  • This paragraph relates to a project to increase the available environmental water in the Murray-Darling Basin by 450 Gigalitres. Senator Joyce explains that this amendment "is to make sure that we remove from this extra 450 gigs the capacity for it to be attained through buyback".[1] According to the Department of the Environment website: "Water buybacks obtain water for the environment from irrigators who offer their water entitlement for sale".[2]
  • This paragraph relates to a project to increase the available environmental water in the Murray-Darling Basin by 450 Gigalitres. Senator Joyce explains that this amendment "is to make sure that we remove from this extra 450 gigs the capacity for it to be attained through buyback".(Read the rest of Senator Joyce's explanation of the amendment and the associated debate [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?id=2013-02-06.6.1 here]. ) According to the Department of the Environment website: "Water buybacks obtain water for the environment from irrigators who offer their water entitlement for sale".(That website is available [http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/water/rural-water/restoring-balance-murray-darling-basin here]. )
  • Background to the bill
  • The bill[3] was introduced to establish an Environment Special Account to fund projects that protect and restore environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) and protect water dependent biodiversity of the MDB.[4] The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.
  • The bill(A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r4925 here]. ) was introduced to establish an Environment Special Account to fund projects that protect and restore environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) and protect water dependent biodiversity of the MDB.(Read more about the bill in this [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/billsdgs/2073890/upload_binary/2073890.pdf;fileType=application/pdf bills digest] (696 KB).) The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.
  • References
  • * [1] Read the rest of Senator Joyce's explanation of the amendment and the associated debate [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?id=2013-02-06.6.1 here].
  • * [2] That website is available [http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/water/rural-water/restoring-balance-murray-darling-basin here].
  • * [3] A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r4925 here].
  • * [4] Read more about the bill in this [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/billsdgs/2073890/upload_binary/2073890.pdf;fileType=application/pdf bills digest] (696 KB).
senate vote 2013-02-06#1

Edited by mackay

on 2014-01-31 10:37:27

Title

  • Bills — Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012; in Committee
  • Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Buybacks

Description

  • <p class="speaker">Barnaby Joyce</p>
  • <p>I move amendment (1) on sheet 7335.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1) Schedule 1, item 2, page 7 (lines 25 and 26), omit paragraph 86AD(2)(b).</p>
  • The majority voted against a [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2013-02-06.6.2 Nationals amendment] introduced by Senator [http://publicwhip-test.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Barnaby_Joyce&mpc=Senate&house=senate Barnaby Joyce], the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.
  • The amendment would have omitted paragraph 86AD(2)(b) from the bill. This paragraph states that: ''(2) Amounts standing to the credit of the Water for the Environment Special Account may be debited for any of the following purposes: ... (b) purchasing water access rights in relation to Basin water resources for the purpose of furthering the object of this Part''.
  • This paragraph relates to a project to increase the available environmental water in the Murray-Darling Basin by 450 Gigalitres. Senator Joyce explains that this amendment "is to make sure that we remove from this extra 450 gigs the capacity for it to be attained through buyback".[1] According to the Department of the Environment website: "Water buybacks obtain water for the environment from irrigators who offer their water entitlement for sale".[2]
  • Background to the bill
  • The bill[3] was introduced to establish an Environment Special Account to fund projects that protect and restore environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) and protect water dependent biodiversity of the MDB.[4] The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.
  • References
  • * [1] Read the rest of Senator Joyce's explanation of the amendment and the associated debate [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?id=2013-02-06.6.1 here].
  • * [2] That website is available [http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/water/rural-water/restoring-balance-murray-darling-basin here].
  • * [3] A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r4925 here].
  • * [4] Read more about the bill in this [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/billsdgs/2073890/upload_binary/2073890.pdf;fileType=application/pdf bills digest] (696 KB).
  • <p>This is in regard to issues pertaining to buybacks. What we have clearly stated is that the economic consequences of buybacks in regional towns&#8212;and we are seeing it right now in some cases&#8212;have been dire especially in parts of Victoria where buybacks have led to reduction of milk quota into the processing factories and therefore you get a closure of processing factories which brings about unemployment. This is not a situation which a responsible government should be part of. If we are going to talk about employment and regional development, we cannot be closing down regional towns.</p>
  • <p>We fully support the capacity of saving water through basically being clever in how we use it. We want to make sure our efforts are concentrated on being clever in how we use it. We acknowledge that strategic purchases in certain areas were part and parcel of the initial parts of the plan, but we have stated categorically that we believe there should be a cap at 1,500 gigs&#8212;which means that there are around 250 gigs left to purchase to get to that number, because we have already purchased a substantial amount. After that, the money that is employed should be through strategic purchases and not through haphazard purchases&#8212;strategic being that you take into account the economic viability of irrigation, the economic viability of delivering water, and the economic viability of the mechanisms and the production of the town being sustained in such a way as it keeps the employment of the town there and keeps a future for the town.</p>
  • <p>This first amendment on sheet 7335 is to make sure that we remove from this extra 450 gigs the capacity for it to be attained through buyback. If it comes via buyback this will send a real sense of fear through the irrigation communities from South Australia all the way up to Queensland. We are talking about an amount of water that is approximately the same amount as what South Australia and Queensland each use. So it is an immense amount of money, and we cannot just be going into these areas and buying up all the water and shutting the areas down. Some might say that that is the cheapest way to get the water. Yes, but it is also the most devastating way to get the water.</p>
  • <p>We have stated all along that we believe that, in being part of this process, there should be an equivalence between the social and economic outcomes for the 2.1 or 2.2 million people who live in the Basin and the environmental outcomes and there should not be superiority of one over the other&#8212;and certainly not superiority of the environment over the people this parliament is here to represent. We welcome an investment that delivers water back to the river in a way that takes into account the economic viability of the towns and allows the productive capacity to remain as unscathed as possible. But that will not happen if we just go in there and start purchasing with an extra $1.77 billion the water licences or trying to attain 450 gigs. Technically, you could buy all the water in South Australia or all the water in Queensland. That would not be a good outcome. That would be a devastating outcome.</p>
  • <p>So, to make it completely unambiguous, we should remove the capacity of this money to be used for buybacks and show&#8212;in the good faith that has been asked of the people of these regional communities&#8212;that we intend to get this water through infrastructure upgrades and through environmental works and measures. The way to do that is to make it unambiguous that we are not just going to have a haphazard arrangement of going to areas and buying back water. To be honest, after talking to people from Victorian areas, I know so many of these communities are at a tipping point right now. We have already lost rice mills and dairy processing factories. We cannot lose anymore.</p>
  • <p>For every one that goes, there is an employee&#8212;and a working family&#8212;that loses their job. Nothing is being offered to them by way of compensation. Nothing has been offered to these towns that have the lost the value of their houses. Nothing has been offered to the businesses that have lost income and to those who have lost the money that they have spent purchasing a business on the belief of an income stream that is supported by irrigation. Nothing has been sent to them. So we cannot add any more uncertainty into this environment. We cannot add any more uncertainty into their capacity to refinance with banks. We cannot add any more heartache into areas where people say, 'I can't get young kids and families back on the land, because the government, by its own actions, is showing that it has no intention for there to be an economy there.' So, in the first instance, this amendment will remove that ambiguity. If this amendment were passed then the subsequent amendment, I think, could be withdrawn. If it is not passed then I have a further two amendments, one of which is an amendment to try and go about this in another way.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Don Farrell</p>
  • <p>I just indicate that the government does not support this amendment. It has taken a very long time to get to the point where we now have a Murray-Darling Basin Plan. There is a reason why it has taken a long time: because it has been very difficult to get all of the states and the federal government to a point where they are all in agreement on how to restore the mighty Murray-Darling Basin to good health. We have achieved that now, and this is the final link in that chain to deliver that result. There have been delicate negotiations with all of the parties&#8212;all of the states and the Commonwealth. We believe that we have got the balance right. We do not believe that it is necessary to have any further amendments. If we were to introduce or accept further amendments then we would risk this very finely balanced piece of legislation. So the government does not support the amendment.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Barnaby Joyce</p>
  • <p>I ask the parliamentary secretary: what guarantees does the government provide that these buybacks will not be delivered or inflicted in such a way as to bring further socioeconomic detriment, especially to the areas that rely on the dairying capacity and the rice-producing capacity, and that we will not have families losing their main breadwinner through the economies of these areas shutting down? What confidence can you provide the Australian people that this money will be delivered in such a way that it does not inflict that if they are allowed to just go in and buy the water?</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Don Farrell</p>
  • <p>I have the greatest confidence that the combination of what we have done with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan legislation last year and what we are doing with this piece of legislation this time will in fact achieve the result that you want. The whole point of going down this track, the whole point of the negotiations and the whole point of getting a consent outcome by the states and the federal government has been to do exactly what you say.</p>
  • <p>In addition to protecting the communities along the Murray-Darling Basin, of course, we are getting a fantastic environmental outcome as well. I had the great pleasure last week of going down to Piccaninnie Ponds, in the south-east of South Australia, and seeing a newly introduced Ramsar site in South Australia. What we are going to see as a result of this legislation passing is the communities along the Murray-Darling Basin being protected but also fantastic environmental outcomes. So I do not think there will be anybody who lives in the Murray-Darling Basin who should have anything to fear from this legislation going through. It is going to deliver protection to the communities, particularly in my home state in South Australia, but also protection to the environment.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Barnaby Joyce</p>
  • <p>I refer the parliamentary secretary to a statement by Minister Tony Burke at his press conference on 26 October in Canberra, where he says:</p>
  • <p class="italic">Now, the extra 450 gigalitres is acquired through the sorts of on-farm infrastructure projects that we've run to date.</p>
  • <p class="italic">It is more expensive than just straight buyback, but environmentally it achieves the same benefit and for those communities, it is a way of making sure that we work with them.</p>
  • <p>Seeing that the minister himself has stated that the 450 gigalitres is to be acquired through the sorts of on-farm infrastructure projects, why do we have in this bill that it can be obtained through buybacks?</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Don Farrell</p>
  • <p>That is what has been agreed. That is the nature of the negotiations. That is what has got us to the point where we have a consent resolution on the issue of the problems of the Murray-Darling Basin. We want a good outcome for the communities and we want a good outcome for the environment. We want the river to be strong and healthy. That is what this legislation does. I do not think there is anything inconsistent with what the minister said on that occasion and what you are seeking to achieve for your communities along the Murray-Darling. The minister needs to be congratulated for being able to bring all of the parties together, so that we do have a consent arrangement between the Commonwealth and the states. I have seen plenty of arguments between South Australia and the other states on the issue of water. We now have a consent resolution to this process. It is the best outcome that we can achieve and we do not believe any further amendments are required.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Barnaby Joyce</p>
  • <p>The problem is that the statement made by the minister when addressing his press conference clearly stated that he believed it was going to come from on-farm infrastructure. On-farm infrastructure is implicitly different to buybacks. You are fully aware of that, as we all are. What exactly does the government mean by this? Why can the government say in one instance it is going to come from on-farm infrastructure, but now we have the capacity for it to come from buybacks? How much of the 450 gigs do you intend to get from buybacks?</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Don Farrell</p>
  • <p>I cannot answer that question, because that will be in the future. I can say for all the communities along the Murray-Darling Basin that this is the best resolution that is capable of being achieved to get the results they want&#8212;namely, continued strong and sustainable communities along the Murray-Darling Basin, a good environmental outcome and a return to the health of the river. That is what we want and that is what the minister wants. This is also what all the communities along the Murray-Darling Basin want. We think this is the way to achieve it. Just how particular amounts of money will be spent in the future we cannot say for sure, but we can say that by supporting this legislation and passing this legislation we will restore the Murray-Darling Basin to health and we will protect the communities along the river.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Barnaby Joyce</p>
  • <p>It is extremely important, because the vagaries of this are growing. It was quite clear from the minister in his representations and his discussions that this was from on-farm infrastructure. You either believe that overwhelmingly and predominantly this is going to come from on-farm infrastructure, it will partially come from on-farm infrastructure or you give no guarantee whatsoever where it is going to come from. I truly believe that people have a right to know this, because we are talking about more water than South Australia uses. Your own state has the right to know exactly how you intend to get this water. If there were a change in government, would you give licence to another government to buy all the water from South Australia, buy all the water from Queensland or shut down the southern part of New South Wales? These people have every right, as this legislation comes to finalisation, to get the government of the day to clearly state its intention. This is of immense interest and people are going to be making economic decisions on this piece of legislation: whether they invest, or whether they do not invest or where they are based. I think, with the greatest respect, they deserve more than a platitude and 'this is a great outcome' because that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about what proportion of this money is going to be used for direct buybacks. If we cannot get any sort of recommendation from the government then unfortunately, in some areas, people will just see this as the worst, they will see that anything is possible. I do not believe that was initially the government's intention. I do not think that is what they will want to be leaving people with in this parliament by reason of reflection on this amendment.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>The parliamentary secretary did not look like he was about to respond to Senator Joyce. On a similar line to Senator Joyce, I ask the parliamentary secretary to step down from the broad rhetoric in his answers and turn to the actual detail of the legislation that is before us. And particularly to answer the question of whether, firstly, it is the government's understanding that the funds appropriated in this special account could be used for general buyback tenders; secondly, if it could be, then is it the government's intention to do so; and, thirdly, if it is neither the government's understanding that it could be used for general buybacks nor is it not the government's intention for it to be used for general buybacks, then in what circumstances, would the government please clearly spell out, does it expect that buybacks could be undertaken?</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Don Farrell</p>
  • <p>The government cannot do general buybacks. I think that answers your questions.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>It does answer the first two questions, Senator Farrell, and I am pleased you have spoken to the advisers and that we have got somewhere in this. You have indicated it is your understanding that under this legislation the government cannot undertake general buybacks. What assurances can the government then give as to the power that it has under this legislation to undertake buybacks, exactly how those buybacks will be undertaken and, in particular, what the relationship is to infrastructure programs?</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>