How Murray Watt voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should introduce legislation that increases the protection of Australia's fresh water resources, including its river and groundwater systems

Division Murray Watt Supporters vote Division outcome

25th Feb 2020, 4:15 PM – Senate Motions - Murray-Darling Basin - Protect water

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by South Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the New South Wales (NSW) Government has lifted its moratorium on floodplain harvesting and water pumping,

(ii) water from recent rains has not yet made it down the river and there are still towns without drinking water, dry catchments and storages and fish species facing collapse,

(iii) the Murray-Darling Basin Authority says it is too early to say whether all storages will receive water, or if flows will be enough to connect the rivers,

(iv) the Queensland Government has also allowed floodplain harvesting which was criticised by the NSW Government,

(v) upstream Basin states making decisions that only benefit them puts the entire river system in jeopardy, and

(vi) the Murray-Darling Basin is on the verge of collapse, and family farms, river communities and the environment need national leadership; and

(b) calls on the NSW Government to reinstate the moratorium on floodplain harvesting and water pumping.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

11th Nov 2019, 4:05 PM – Senate Motions - Wallarah 2 Coal Project - Cancel approval

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by NSW Senator Mehreen Faruqi (Greens), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Wallarah 2 Coal Project is a proposed longwall underground mining operation northwest of central Wyong on the New South Wales Central Coast,

(ii) the proposed mine would produce 4 to 5 million tonnes per annum of thermal coal each year for 28 years, leading to more than 264 million tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, and

(iii) the Wallarah 2 Coal Project poses a serious risk to the Central Coast's drinking water supply; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to protect the water of Central Coast communities, and cancel all environmental approvals granted under Federal law.

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

11th Sep 2019, 3:58 PM – Senate Motions - Murray-Darling Basin - Crisis

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The majority voted against clause (a) of a motion introduced by SA Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Murray-Darling Basin is in crisis,

(ii) the Murray-Darling Basin is being exploited by water barons and big corporate irrigators who are pushing up the price of water and squeezing family farms out of the water market, and

(iii) urgent and immediate action is required to prevent more mass native-fish deaths, and more devastation for family farms, river communities and the environment; and

(b) ...

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

24th Jul 2019, 10:38 AM – Senate Future Drought Fund Bill 2019 and another - Second Reading - Fossil fuel companies water use

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Queensland Senator Larissa Waters (Greens), which means it failed. The motion would have amended the usual second reading motion, which is that "the bills be read for a second time". This is parliamentary jargon for agreeing with the main idea of the bill.

Motion text

At the end of the motion, add:

", but the Senate notes that free or unlimited water entitlements given to fossil fuel companies by State and Territory governments, while farmers struggle with drought conditions, significantly undermines the effectiveness of any drought response by:

(a) depriving farmers of water;

(b) exacerbating droughts; and

(c) worsening climate change which further exacerbates droughts."

No Yes Not passed by a large majority

14th Feb 2019, 12:27 PM – Senate Motions - Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission - Respond to recommendations

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The majority voted in favour of paragraph (b)(i) of a motion introduced by South Australian Senator Tim Storer (Independent), which means it succeeded. Motions like these don't have any legal force on their own but are politically influential as they represent the will of the Senate.

Motion text

That the Senate—

...

(b) calls on the Federal Government to:

(i) immediately respond to each and every recommendation proposed by the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission and the Productivity Commission's review of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and

...

Yes Yes Passed by a small majority

14th Feb 2019 – Senate Motions - Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission - Reform needed

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The majority voted in favour of paragraph (a)(i) to (iv) of a motion introduced by South Australian Senator Tim Storer (Independent), which means it succeeded. Motions like these don't have any legal force on their own but are politically influential as they represent the will of the Senate.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Murray-Darling Basin needs more water to ensure its survival, the latest evidence of this being the fish-kills at Menindee Lakes,

(ii) the management of the Murray-Darling Basin requires urgent reform,

(iii) the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission delivered its findings on 29 January 2019, including recommendations to:

(A) improve transparency by "requiring real-time data sharing and publication on water extractions",

(B) abolish the water buybacks cap of 1,500 gigalitres, and

(C) undertake further research into return flows so that we know the effects of irrigation efficiency projects, and

(iv) the Productivity Commission delivered its findings to the Federal Government on 19 December 2018, pointing out that:

(A) the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's twin roles as overseer of the Plan and its regulator are "conflicted and the conflicts will intensity in the next five years", and

(B) structural separation of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority into a Basin Plan Regulator and Murray-Darling Basin Agency is required to ensure effective implementation of the Plan; and

...

Yes Yes Passed by a small majority

27th Nov 2018, 4:51 PM – Senate Motions - Mining - Water environmental assessment

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters (Qld), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) 58% of Queensland is drought declared,

(ii) the Adani Carmichael mine has applied to extract 12.5 billion litres of water from the Suttor River every year, nearly as much as all other local users combined,

(iii) the China Stone coal mine, which is now one step closer to approval, is expected to extract another 12.5 billion litres of water, from the very same river system,

(iv) the Queensland Government has granted the Adani Carmichael mine an unlimited groundwater extraction licence for 60 years,

(v) it is expected that the China Stone mine will draw a similar volume of groundwater as the Adani Carmichael mine,

(vi) polling conducted by ReachTel shows voters are concerned about water extraction by Adani, and 70% agreed the groundwater extraction licence should be revoked to safeguard water for farmers, and

(vii) the Queensland Coordinator General has asked for MacMines' China Stone mine to provide extra revised groundwater impact assessment, as well as an associated water licence before the mine could be approved; and

(b) calls on the Minister for the Environment to require MacMines Austasia to conduct a cumulative water environmental assessment for coal mines in the Galilee Basin before any decision is made whether to approve the China Stone coal mine project.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

25th Jun 2018, 9:17 PM – Senate Water Amendment Bill 2018 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to pass the bill in the Senate. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill a third time. Since it had already passed in the House of Representatives, it will now become law.

What does this bill do?

The bill was introduced to:

enable the Commonwealth Water Minister to direct the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to prepare an amendment to the Basin Plan 2012 (the Basin Plan) that is the same in effect as a Basin Plan amendment that has previously been disallowed, or taken to have been disallowed, by either House of Parliament.

Read more in the bills digest.

Yes No Passed by a modest majority

25th Jun 2018, 8:36 PM – Senate Water Amendment Bill 2018 - Second Reading - Agree with the bill's main idea

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to agree with the bill's main idea. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill for a second time, which means they can now discuss it in greater detail.

What does this bill do?

The bill was introduced to:

enable the Commonwealth Water Minister to direct the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to prepare an amendment to the Basin Plan 2012 (the Basin Plan) that is the same in effect as a Basin Plan amendment that has previously been disallowed, or taken to have been disallowed, by either House of Parliament.

Read more in the bills digest.

Yes No Passed by a modest majority

9th May 2018, 6:50 PM – Senate Regulations and Determinations - Basin Plan Amendment (Sdl Adjustments) Instrument 2017 - Disallowance

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No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

14th Feb 2018, 7:14 PM – Senate Regulations and Determinations - Basin Plan Amendment Instrument 2017 (No. 1) - Disallow

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to disallow the Basin Plan Amendment Instrument 2017 (No. 1), which means that instrument will no longer have legal force.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (SA) explained that:

... we have a regulation before us in this place [that is, the Basin Plan Amendment Instrument 2017 (No. 1)] that suggests the Murray-Darling Basin Plan should be amended to take more water out of the river, to take more water off the environment and to hand it to big corporate irrigators upstream. It is rewarding bad behaviour. That is why today's vote is very, very important. Amongst this cesspool of water theft, corruption and mismanagement, why on earth would this parliament sign off on giving more water to the people who have behaved badly and less water to the river that desperately needs it?

Yes Yes Passed by a small majority

15th Nov 2017, 3:59 PM – Senate Motions - Coal Seam Gas Mining: Liverpool Plains - Moratorium

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The majority voted against a motion calling for:

the Government to protect agricultural groundwater systems by placing a moratorium on Commonwealth approval of proposed coal and coal seam gas mining projects on the Liverpool Plains, Namoi Valley and Gunnedah Basin.

This means the motion failed.

Full motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) sustainable food and fibre production on the Liverpool Plains requires an integrated and strategic approach to water reform,

(ii) the Liverpool Plains contains some of the most productive and fertile soil in Australia and farmers need certainty about water resources to assist their farming practices, and

(iii) the high degree of connectivity between groundwater systems throughout the Namoi Valley indicates that mining impacts on Liverpool Plains groundwater can extend well beyond one local site into surrounding agricultural systems; and

(b) calls on the Government to protect agricultural groundwater systems by placing a moratorium on Commonwealth approval of proposed coal and coal seam gas mining projects on the Liverpool Plains, Namoi Valley and Gunnedah Basin.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

How "voted moderately against" is worked out

The MP's votes count towards a weighted average where the most important votes get 50 points, less important votes get 10 points, and less important votes for which the MP was absent get 2 points. In important votes the MP gets awarded the full 50 points for voting the same as the policy, 0 points for voting against the policy, and 25 points for not voting. In less important votes, the MP gets 10 points for voting with the policy, 0 points for voting against, and 1 (out of 2) if absent.

Then, the number gets converted to a simple english language phrase based on the range of values it's within.

No of votes Points Out of
Most important votes (50 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 3 30 30
MP voted against policy 7 0 70
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 2 2 4
Total: 32 104

*Pressure of other work means MPs or Senators are not always available to vote – it does not always indicate they have abstained. Therefore, being absent on a less important vote makes a disproportionatly small difference.

Agreement score = MP's points / total points = 32 / 104 = 31%.

And then