How Anne McEwen 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 Anne McEwen Supporters vote Division outcome

24th Nov 2014, 5:06 PM – Senate Motions - Foreign Investment - Limit foreign investment

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Christine Milne, which would have put further limits on foreign investment.

Wording of the motion

That the Senate

(a) notes:

(i) the Free Trade memorandum of understanding [63.5KB] signed between Australia and China, and

(ii) that climate change, with its consequent global food insecurity, is driving governments to acquire land and water outside their own borders as sources of food supply; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) create a register of foreign ownership of agricultural land and water assets to continuously track overseas purchases,

(ii) lower the threshold from $248 million to $5 million for consideration of the national interest by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for purchases of agricultural land and water by a foreign private entity,

(iii) legislate a stronger national interest test to be applied by the FIRB for purchases of agricultural land and water resources, and

(iv) prohibit the purchase of agricultural land and water by wholly owned subsidiaries of foreign governments.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

22nd Sep 2014, 1:38 PM – Senate Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014 - in Committee - Independent study before grant of mining licences

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The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters. The motion would have removed schedule 5 from the commencement provisions of the bill so that it does not commence with the rest of the schedules and therefore remains ineffective.

Schedule 5 contains environmental provisions, including a provision that repeals section 255AA of the Water Act 2007, which "requires an independent study to be undertaken before the grant of mining licences on floodplains in the Murray-Darling system". (Read more about Schedule 5 and this particular provision in the bills digest. )

Senator Waters explained that with this schedule, the government is proposing "to allow companies to proceed with mining of gold, silver, copper—a whole host of mines that can have subsidence impacts—without doing the independent study on groundwater that existing section 255AA of the Water Act requires them to do" (see Senator Waters' full explanation here).

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced to "reduce regulatory burden for business, individuals and the community sector" (see the explanatory memorandum) and to repeal redundant provisions that are either duplications or have ceased to have effect. The provisions of the bill that make material changes have been identified and discussed in the bills digest.

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

22nd Sep 2014, 1:32 PM – Senate Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014 - in Committee - Independent study before grant of mining licences

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The majority voted in favour of a motion that schedule 5 "stand as printed" (i.e. that schedule 5 remain unchanged). Schedule 5 contained environmental provisions, including the repeal of section 255AA of the Water Act 2007, which "requires an independent study to be undertaken before the grant of mining licences on floodplains in the Murray-Darling system". (Read more about Schedule 5 and this particular provision in the bills digest.)

This motion was put in response to an amendment introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters, which called for schedule 5 to be opposed. Senator Waters explained that with this schedule, the government is proposing "to allow companies to proceed with mining of gold, silver, copper—a whole host of mines that can have subsidence impacts—without doing the independent study on groundwater that existing section 255AA of the Water Act requires them to do" (see Senator Waters' full explanation here).

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced to "reduce regulatory burden for business, individuals and the community sector" (see the explanatory memorandum) and to repeal redundant provisions that are either duplications or have ceased to have effect. The provisions of the bill that make material changes have been identified and discussed in the bills digest.

Yes No Passed by a modest majority

17th Jul 2014, 12:07 PM – Senate Motions - National Water Commission - Reverse position on closure

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The majority voted in favour of a motion introduced by NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon (Greens), which means it passed. Motions like these don't make any legal changes on their own but are politically influential because they represent the will of the Senate.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) water is one of our most important resources and is critical to Australia's economic growth,

(ii) the National Water Commission (the Commission) plays a crucial role in monitoring, auditing and assessing water policy,

(iii) the independence of the Commission is vital to its effectiveness, and

(iv) the 2011 Council of Australian Governments review of the Commission stated that it should continue 'for the lifetime of the NWI' and 'without sunset provision until the NWI is substantially replaced'; and

(b) calls on the Government to reverse its position on the closure of the Commission.

Yes Yes Passed by a small majority

15th May 2014, 12:14 PM – Senate Motions - Coal Seam Gas - Bentley blockade

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The majority rejected the motion to support the Bentley blockade against gas exploration, which means that it was rejected. It was introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters.

Text of the motion

That the Senate-

(a)   notes:

(i)   the huge community opposition to Metgasco's plans to drill for tight gas near Bentley in New South Wales,

(ii)   that tight gas extraction involves hydraulic fracking which risks precious water resources, and

(iii)   that 84.5 per cent of Bentley locals want their lands and road gas-field free;

(b)   congratulates the Bentley blockaders for their commitment to protecting their land, water, the climate and regional communities from big gas; and

(c)   calls on:

(i)   the New South Wales Government to respect the rights of protesters to peacefully protest, and to respond to the community's valid concerns by revoking Metgasco's gas exploration permit, and

(ii)   the Australian Government to extend the current protections for water resources under our national environment laws to all unconventional gas, to give landholders the right to say no to gas mining on their land, and to not hand responsibility for protecting land and water from big gas to state governments.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

6th Mar 2014, 11:40 AM – Senate Landholders' Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2013 - Second Reading - Agree with the bill's main idea

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The majority disagreed with the bill's main idea (in other words, they voted against reading the bill for a second time). This means that the bill was rejected and won't be considered further.

Main idea of the bill

The bill would have given landholders the right to say no to gas and coal mining activities by corporations on food producing land, unless the corporations had written authorisation that followed particular requirements.

Background to the bill

Greens Senator Larissa Waters introduced the bill as a private member's bill. She believed that the bill was necessary because the efforts in Queensland and New South Wales to protect prime agricultural land had failed to protect farmers (see ABC News). You can watch Senator Waters' second reading speech on youtube.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

20th Jun 2013, 12:15 PM – Senate Motions - Environment - Amend environment laws

Show detail

The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters.

The motion read:

I move:

That the Senate-

(a) notes that Australia's national environment laws only regulate this country's most environmentally destructive projects which threaten our most precious species and wild places; and

(b) calls on the Government to amend our national environment laws before this Parliament rises to ensure these responsibilities cannot be handed to state or territory governments.

This means that the majority were against amending federal environment laws to ensure that responsibilities for Australia's 'most precious species and wild places' remain with the federal government.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

19th Jun 2013, 11:09 AM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 - In Committee - Report the bill

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The majority voted in favour of a motion that "the bill be reported". This is a procedural motion and follows the earlier vote in committee to agree to the bill as it is.

This motion officially concludes the consideration of the bill in committee stage.(See [http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/~/link.aspx?_id=E6FC77EE462F454EBDBE776AA771F0D7&_z=z here] for more information about what it means to report the bill. ) The next step is for the Senate to adopt the committee's report before finally voting on whether to read the bill a third time and therefore pass it through the Senate so it can become law.(See here for more information about what it means to adopt a committee report. ) In fact, this is what subsequently occurred without any further division.(The report was adopted without division and then the bill was read a third time. )

Background to the Bill

The purpose of the bill is to protect water resources from significant impacts caused by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.(See here for more information about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum and bills digest.) This is called a ‘water trigger’. The bill creates penalties and offences to prohibit such actions.

References

Yes Yes (strong) Passed by a small majority

19th Jun 2013, 11:05 AM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 - In Committee - Stand as printed

Show detail

The majority voted in favour of a motion that the bill stand as printed.(See the Brief Guide to Senate Procedure, under the 'Proceedings in committee of the whole' subheading, for more information about these types of procedural motions. )

This vote ends any further consideration of the bill in the committee stage and means that the majority of senators agree with the bill as it is.

Background to the Bill

The purpose of the bill is to protect water resources from significant impacts caused by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.(See here for more information about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum and bills digest.) This is called a ‘water trigger’. The bill creates penalties and offences to prohibit such actions.

References

Yes Yes (strong) Passed by a small majority

19th Jun 2013, 10:56 AM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 - In Committee - Extend protection

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The majority voted against a Greens Party amendment that has three parts:

  • The first part is retrospective so that certain previously approved developments are subject to the water provisions contained in this bill;
  • The second part is aimed at ensuring that the federal government retains final veto power against state governments;
  • The final part is aimed at protecting national parks.

The amendment was introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters.

Background to the Bill

The purpose of the bill is to protect water resources from significant impacts caused by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.(See here for more information about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum and bills digest.) This is called a ‘water trigger’. The bill creates penalties and offences to prohibit such actions.

References

No Yes Not passed by a large majority

19th Jun 2013 – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 - In Committee - Exclude exploration, assessment and appraisal from bill

Show detail

The majority voted against an amendment to exclude "exploration, assessment or appraisal pursuant to a petroleum title granted under a law of a State or Territory" from the definitions of coal seam gas development and large coal mining development.

Debate in Parliament

The amendment was introduced by Senator Simon Birmingham to draw a distinction between "exploration or appraisal activities and actual production and development activities".(You can read Senator Birmingham's comments about the amendment here. )

Labor Senator Stephen Conroy said that all the issues raised by Senator Birmingham have been "fully considered" by the Senate committee and they recommended that the bill be passed.(You can read Senator Conroy's comments here. A copy of the Senate committee's report is available here. )

Background to the Bill

The purpose of the bill is to protect water resources from significant impacts caused by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.(See here for more information about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum and bills digest.) This is called a ‘water trigger’. The bill creates penalties and offences to prohibit such actions.

References

No No Not passed by a small majority

17th Jun 2013, 9:43 PM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 - In Committee - Bilateral agreements

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The majority voted in favour of items 3A, 4A and 4B of Schedule 1 remaining as they are. These three items were inserted by amendment in the House of Representatives.(That division is available here. )

The items give precedence to the subdivision of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) that protects water resources from significant impacts caused by coal seam gas development and large coal mining development,(This subdivision is available to read on ComLaw, the Commonwealth website that contains the full text of all recent Australian Government legislation. For more on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) see the Wikipedia entry. ) even where bilateral agreements would otherwise allow a state government to act in respect of this type of development without approval.

The question was put after Senator Simon Birmingham moved an amendment to oppose those items.

Background to the Bill

The purpose of the bill is to protect water resources from significant impacts caused by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.(See here for more information about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum and bills digest.) This is called a ‘water trigger’. The bill creates penalties and offences to prohibit such actions.

References

Yes Yes Passed by a small majority

17th Jun 2013, 8:07 PM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 - In Committee - Amend to make more specific

Show detail

The majority voted against a motion to change the wording of proposed section 24D(2)(a). The motion was introduced by Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham.

Debate in Parliament

The proposed section 24D(2)(a) contained in the bill currently reads: (2) A person must not take an action if: (a) the action involves: (i) coal seam gas development; or (ii) large coal mining development; and ...

Senator Birmingham's motion was an amendment to change the word "involves" to "is a". He said that the current wording is too broad and so this amendment would "minimise the potential ... for there to be any unintended consequences as a result".

Labor Senator Jan McLucas disagreed, saying that Senator Birmingham's amendment "would limit the bill to activity which is a coal seam gas or large coalmining development rather than activity which involves such developments".

Background to the Bill

The purpose of the bill is to protect water resources from significant impacts caused by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.(See here for more information about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum and bills digest.)

References

No No Not passed by a small majority

17th Jun 2013, 7:46 PM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 - In Committee - Amend to include shale gas, tight gas and underground coal gasification

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The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters.

The amendment would have changed the bill so that:

  • the definition of "coal seam gas development" includes shale gas extraction and tight gas extraction; and
  • the definition of "large coal mining development" includes underground coal gasification mining activity.

Background to the bill

The purpose of the bill is to protect water resources from significant impacts caused by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.(See here for more information about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum and bills digest.)

References

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

14th Mar 2013, 12:32 PM – Senate Motions - Coal Seam Gas - Water trigger

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters. This means that the motion was rejected.

The motion was:

That the Senate-

(a) notes that:

(i) no coal seam gas projects or coal mines have been assessed under Australia's national environment laws for their impacts on the climate or water resources, and(For more information about coal seam gas, see here. )

(ii) there is huge concern about the impacts of coal seam gas and coal mines in the Australian community, particularly within farming communities that depend on scarce water resources; and

(b) calls on the Government to retrospectively apply its proposed water trigger and re-assess all projects approved under the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities ( Mr Burke).

Background to the motion

The 'water trigger' referred to in the motion is contained in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013.(Read more about the bill here. More information about the water trigger is available in its bills digest (750 KB).) It is activated when coal seam gas or large mining developments are likely to have a significant impact on a water resource.

References

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

7th Feb 2013, 1:38 PM – Senate Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Auditing

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The majority voted against a Greens amendment moved by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

This amendment related to auditing the special account established by this bill. Senator Hanson-Young explains that it would "ensure that the National Water Commission will properly, rigorously, audit the special account after every financial year to make sure that the $1.77 billion is being spent wisely and productively."(See the rest of Senator Hanson-Young's explanation and the associated debate here. The amendment was referred to as Greens amendments (17) to (24) on sheet 7314 and began at 1:29 pm. )

Background to the bill

The bill(A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available 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 bills digest (696 KB).) The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.

References

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

7th Feb 2013, 12:38 PM – Senate Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Buyback cap

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The majority voted against a Nationals amendment introduced by Senator Barnaby Joyce, the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.

The amendment would have inserted a new section 86AEA, titled "Limit on purchase of water access rights". This new section stated: The total amount of water access rights purchased by, or on behalf of, the Commonwealth since 2009, whether with amounts debited from the Water for the Environment Special Account or otherwise for the purposes of the Basin Plan, must not exceed 1500 gigalitres.

Senator Joyce explained that this amendment "is about reinforcing the coalition's strong belief in the buyback cap",(See Senator Joyce's full explanation of the amendment and the associated debate here. The amendment is referred to as Nationals amendment (4) on sheet 7336 and the relevant discussion began at 12:31 pm. ) which was also reflected by an earlier Nationals amendment moved by Senator Joyce.(That amendment is available 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 here. )

Background to the bill

The bill(A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available 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 bills digest (696 KB).) The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.

References

No No Not passed by a small majority

6th Feb 2013, 12:44 PM – Senate Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Timeframe

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The majority voted against a Greens amendment moved by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Hanson-Young explains that this amendment "go[es] to the time frame of this piece of legislation and the required timing of when the extra water—450 gigalitres—is to be returned."(See the rest of Senator Hanson-Young's contribution and related debate here. The amendment is referred to as the Greens amendments (7) and (10) to (16) on sheet 7314 and the relevant debate began at 12:37 pm. ) These amendments will bring forward the due date from 2024 to 2019.

Background to the bill

The bill(A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available 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 bills digest (696 KB).) The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.

References

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

6th Feb 2013, 12:34 PM – Senate Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Up to 450 Gigalitres

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The majority voted against a Nationals amendment introduced by Senator Barnaby Joyce, the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.

This amendment replaces the wording of paragraph 86AA(3)(b) of the bill from "increasing the volume of the Basin water resources that is available for environmental use by 450 gigalitres" to "increasing the volume of the Basin water resources that is available for environmental use by up to 450 gigalitres". This amendment would reverse the effects of a previous amendment in the House of Representatives.(This amendment is available here. )

Senator Joyce argued that re-adding in the words "up to" would ensure that "we are not going to be tying people into an outcome which the reality is we do not have the money for".(Read the whole of Senator Joyce's contribution here and the associated debate here. The amendment is referred to as Nationals amendment number (1) on sheet 7337 and was discussed from 11:39 am. )

Background to the bill

The bill(A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available 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 bills digest (696 KB).) The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.

References

No No Not passed by a small majority

6th Feb 2013, 11:34 AM – Senate Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Socioeconomic outcomes

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The majority voted against a Nationals amendment introduced by Senator Barnaby Joyce, the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.

Senator Joyce argues that there should be "a balance between socioeconomic and environmental outcomes".(Read Senator Joyce's whole contribution and the associated debate here. The debate on this amendment, called the Nationals amendment numbers (1) and (2) on sheet 7336, began at 11:16 am. ) This amendment supports this by requiring that the objective of "enhanc[ing] the environmental outcomes that can be achieved by the Basin Plan" be pursued "while achieving neutral or beneficial socio-economic outcomes".(Read a copy of the bill here. The amendment was to add these quoted words at the end of subsection 86AA(1). ) Further, it adds an additional way to enhance these environmental outcomes by "(i) investing in water efficient infrastructure and other on-farm works".(This new subsection would have been added to the end of subsection 86AA(2), which you can see here. )

Background to the bill

The bill(A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available 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 bills digest (696 KB).) The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.

References

No No Not passed by a small majority

6th Feb 2013, 10:44 AM – Senate Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Buybacks

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The majority voted against a Nationals amendment introduced by Senator 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 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 here. )

Background to the bill

The bill(A copy of the bill, its explanatory memoranda and amendments are available 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 bills digest (696 KB).) The projects will include those that increase the available environmental water in the MDB by 450 Gigalitres.

References

No No Not passed by a small majority

21st Nov 2012, 10:43 AM – Senate Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the bill a third time. The motion was introduced by Labor Senator Stephen Conroy.

This means that the bill is passed in the Senate and, as it has already passed in the House of Representatives, it will now be sent to the Governor-General for royal assent so it can become law.

Background to the bill

The purpose of the bill is to allow the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to make adjustments to the long-term average sustainable diversion limit set by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.(See the bills digest (809KB) for more information on the bill and its purpose.) Sustainable diversion limits are the average water quantities that can be taken from the Murray-Darling basin sustainably and their aim is to return water to the environment.

References

Yes No Passed by a modest majority

21st Nov 2012, 10:36 AM – Senate Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Protection of communities

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The majority rejected an amendment moved by Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce.

The amendment stated that: "Any reduction in the long-term average sustainable diversion limit for the water resources of a particular water resource plan area may only be achieved through the purchase of water access rights if the purchase of those rights will not cause apparent social or economic detriment to the district in the Murray-Darling Basin from which the water is retrieved."

Its purpose is to protect people who live in affected communities by ensuring that "their economic and social fabric is maintained and that we do not devastate their lives".(See Senator Joyce's contribution for more information about the amendment. )

Background to the bill

The purpose of the bill is to allow the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to make adjustments to the long-term average sustainable diversion limit set by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.(See the bills digest (809KB) for more information on the bill and its purpose.) Sustainable diversion limits are the average water quantities that can be taken from the Murray-Darling basin sustainably and their aim is to return water to the environment.

References

No No Not passed by a small majority

21st Nov 2012, 9:39 AM – Senate Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Modelling

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The majority voted against an amendment moved by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

According the Senator Hanson-Young, the amendment requires "that there be basin-wide modelling done prior to any adjustment in the levels of sustainable diversion limits to ensure that we know exactly what the impact of the changes to that water recovery, either up or down, will actually be".(See Senator Hanson-Young's contribution for more information about what the amendment does. ) She said that this modelling must be available to the public, the affected communities and the parliament.

Background to the bill

The purpose of the bill is to allow the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to make adjustments to the long-term average sustainable diversion limit set by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.(See the bills digest (809KB) for more information on the bill and its purpose.) Sustainable diversion limits are the average water quantities that can be taken from the Murray-Darling basin sustainably and their aim is to return water to the environment.

References

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

21st Nov 2012 – Senate Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Adjustments

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The majority voted against an amendment moved by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

The amendment put a limit on proposed adjustments to sustainable diversion limits set by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. It stated that "One or more adjustments may be proposed by the [Murray Darling Basin] Authority ... only if the adjustment ... would not have the effect of reducing the volume of water available for the environment."(See Senator Hanson-Young's contribution for more information about the amendment. )

Background to the bill

The purpose of the bill is to allow the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to make adjustments to the long-term average sustainable diversion limit set by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.(See the bills digest (809KB) for more information on the bill and its purpose.) Sustainable diversion limits are the average water quantities that can be taken from the Murray-Darling basin sustainably and their aim is to return water to the environment.

References

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

20th Nov 2012, 9:59 PM – Senate Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Adoption of amendments

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The majority voted against an amendment moved by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

The amendment outlines a number of key targets that the Greens believe will "ensure that we set a proper benchmark" for future long-term average sustainable diversion limits.(See Senator Hanson-Young's contribution for more information. ) For example, the amendment requires that the mouth of the River Murray "be open to an average annual depth of 1 metre or more for at least 95% of years and to an average annual depth of 0.7 metres or more for at least 95% of years".(This is section 6A(c)(iv) of amendment (5). )

Background to the bill

The purpose of the bill is to allow the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to make adjustments to the long-term average sustainable diversion limit set by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.(See the bills digest (809KB) for more information on the bill and its purpose.) Sustainable diversion limits are the average water quantities that can be taken from the Murray-Darling basin sustainably and their aim is to return water to the environment.

References

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

20th Nov 2012, 9:41 PM – Senate Water Amendment (Long-term Average Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Ground water amendment

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The majority voted against the Greens amendment that prevents any increase to ground water extraction unless certain assessment processes take place.

This means that the majority of senators disagreed with the amendment.

The amendment was introduced by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and its purpose is to adhere to a precautionary principle. It was introduced in the context of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and addresses a concern within the Greens Party that there is insufficient knowledge about the impact of groundwater extraction on surface water levels.

Background to the bill

The purpose of the bill is to allow the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to make adjustments to the long-term average sustainable diversion limit set by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.(See the bills digest (809KB) for more information on the bill and its purpose.) Sustainable diversion limits are the average water quantities that can be taken from the Murray-Darling basin sustainably and their aim is to return water to the environment.

References

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

10th Sep 2012, 9:23 PM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Five-year moratorium

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The majority voted against a Greens amendment introduced by Senator Larissa Waters.

The amendment calls for a moratorium on drilling through or into an aquifer in connection with coal seam gas mining. The moratorium would last for five years or less if the full research program of the Committee created by this bill takes less time. Senator Waters explained that this amendment ensures that "we wait and let this committee do its work before we issue any more approvals".(Read Senator Waters explanation of the amendment here. ) Senator Waters also emphasised that this restriction "does not apply to scientific research that is done to better understand the interaction of groundwater systems and coal seam gas mining".

Background to the bill

The bill establishes an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development ('the Committee')(Read more about the Committee here. ) to provide federal, state and territory governments with scientific advice on coal seam gas and large coal mining developments which may have significant impacts on water resources.(See here for explanatory memoranda and proposed amendments.)

References

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

10th Sep 2012, 8:06 PM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Tenure

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The majority voted against a Greens amendment moved by Senator Larissa Waters.

The amendment stated that members of the Committee created by this bill should have at least three years tenure but not more than five years. Senator Waters argues that this amendment would ensure the independence of the Committee.(Read Senator Waters explanation of the amendment here. This amendment is referred to as Greens amendment (12) in the debate and was introduced at 8 pm. )

Background to the bill

The bill establishes an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development ('the Committee')(Read more about the Committee here. ) to provide federal, state and territory governments with scientific advice on coal seam gas and large coal mining developments which may have significant impacts on water resources.(See here for explanatory memoranda and proposed amendments.)

References

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

10th Sep 2012, 7:58 PM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Staffing resources

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The majority voted against a Greens amendment moved by Senator Larissa Waters.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the Committee created by this bill is properly resourced to do its workload. It adds section 505F that states that: "The staff necessary to assist the Committee are to be persons engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 who are: (a) employed in the Department; and (b) made available for the purpose by the Secretary of the Department."

Senator Waters argued that "it is crucial that the committee be supported with adequate staff—in my view, public servants—to do [their] work."(Read Senator Waters argument and the associated debate here. This particular amendment is referred to as amendment (11) and begins to be discussed at 7:45pm. )

Background to the bill

The bill establishes an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development ('the Committee')(Read more about the Committee here. ) to provide federal, state and territory governments with scientific advice on coal seam gas and large coal mining developments which may have significant impacts on water resources.(See here for explanatory memoranda and proposed amendments.)

References

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

10th Sep 2012, 1:46 PM – Senate Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Own initiative

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The majority voted against a Greens amendment introduced by Senator Larissa Waters.

This amendment increases the scope of the Committee created by this bill to investigate the various impacts of coal and coal seam gas on water resources at their own initiative, rather than having to be asked to do so by the federal minister.(Senator Waters' discussion about the amendment is available here. )

Background to the bill

The bill establishes an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development ('the Committee')(Read more about the Committee here. ) to provide federal, state and territory governments with scientific advice on coal seam gas and large coal mining developments which may have significant impacts on water resources.(See here for explanatory memoranda and proposed amendments.)

References

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

20th Aug 2012, 3:42 PM – Senate Motions - Murray-Darling Basin - 4000 gigalitres required

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, which was:

That the Senate-

(a) notes the position statement on the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) draft plan launched by South Australian environmental groups, including the Conservation Council of South Australia, The Wilderness Society, Trees for Life, National Trust of South Australia, National Parks and Wildlife, Nature Conservation Society of South Australia and Friends of the Earth Adelaide, on 27 July 2012;

(b) notes that these groups identify that 4 000 GL must be returned to the river in accordance with the best available science to provide for healthy MDB communities and economies; and

(c) calls on the Government to instruct the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to model at least 4 000 GL against the requirements of the Water Act 2007 and undertake feasibility studies on constraints to delivering 4 000 GL as requested by the South Australian environmental groups.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

22nd Mar 2012, 1:53 PM – Senate Motions - Mining - Moratorium on coal seam gas

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters, which was:

That the Senate-

(a)   notes that in the past 6 months since the Greens motion for a moratorium on coal seam gas mining was first defeated in the Senate, the urgent concerns of farmers, landholders and regional communities regarding the risks posed by the runaway coal seam gas industry have not been addressed;

(b)   notes that the recent Senate inquiry into the impacts of coal seam gas mining in the Murray Darling Basin heard compelling evidence that regional communities are suffering many negative impacts from the operations of coal seam gas mining companies; and

(c)   calls on the Government to implement an immediate moratorium on any new coal seam gas approvals until the long-term impacts of the industry on groundwater, agriculture, rural communities, threatened species, the climate and the Great Barrier Reef are known.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

9th Nov 2011 – Senate Motions - Coal Seam Gas - Protect water systems and the environment

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters.

This means that the motion was unsuccessful.

The motion was:

That the Senate notes:

(a)   that no coal seam gas development should proceed where it poses a significant impact on the quality of groundwater or surface water systems; and

(b)   it must absolutely clear that no coal seam gas development should occur unless it is proven safe for the environment.(Read more about coal seam gas here.)

References

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

22nd Aug 2011 – Senate Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011 - In Committee - Excluded offsets projects

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This division relates to the Policy For carbon farming.

The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, which means that it was unsuccessful.

The amendment would have omitted paragraph (2)(a) on clause 56,(See the bill at the time of first reading here. ) which read at the time of first reading:

(2) In deciding whether to recommend to the Governor-General that regulations should be made for the purposes of subsection (1) specifying a particular kind of project, the Minister must have regard to whether there is a significant risk that that kind of project will have a significant adverse impact on one or more of the following:

(a) the availability of water;

Although Senator Xenophon did not provide an explanation for his amendment at the time that he moved it, he did say previously that "My concern is that the way the process will operate may be subject to a number of ambiguities and uncertainties where we will end up with certain projects being approved where there is an overall adverse impact on water security and food production."(See Senator Xenophon's explanation here at 10:32 am. ) His previous amendments also related to excluded offsets projects and more can be read about them here.

Background to the bills

The Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011 was introduced with two other bills to establish a voluntary carbon offset scheme, to be called the Carbon Farming Initiative.(The three related bills are the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011, the Carbon Credits (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011 and the Australian National Registry of Emissions Units Bill 2011. ) Introducing this scheme was a Government election commitment. The Initiative will be "a voluntary scheme that aims to provide incentives for the agricultural and forestry sectors to minimise carbon emissions or maximise carbon sequestration by altering their forestry and agricultural practices".(Read more in the bills digest. ) The objectives of this scheme are:

No Yes Not passed by a small majority

22nd Aug 2011 – Senate Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011 — In Committee — Excluded offsets projects

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This division relates to the Policy For carbon farming.

The majority voted against amendments introduced by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, which means that they were unsuccessful.

The amendment would have added to the list of excluded offsets projects under the bill to include projects that were:

  • "established as, or as part of, a managed investment scheme; or"
  • "determined ... to have an adverse impact on: (i) the availability of water; or (ii) land and resource access for agricultural production".(Read the entirety of the proposed amendments here.

)

The dispute surrounding these amendments is that they would require assessment on an individual basis, as opposed to the broader approach favoured by the Labor Government.(See the debate on these amendments here, after 10:22 am. )

Background to the bills

The Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011 was introduced with two other bills to establish a voluntary carbon offset scheme, to be called the Carbon Farming Initiative.(The three related bills are the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011, the Carbon Credits (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011 and the Australian National Registry of Emissions Units Bill 2011. ) Introducing this scheme was a Government election commitment. The Initiative will be "a voluntary scheme that aims to provide incentives for the agricultural and forestry sectors to minimise carbon emissions or maximise carbon sequestration by altering their forestry and agricultural practices".(Read more in the bills digest. ) The objectives of this scheme are:

No Yes Not passed by a small majority

22nd Jun 2010, 4:30 PM – Senate Motions - Water Supply for Adelaide

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. This means that the motion was rejected.

The motion was:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) there is significant opportunity for investment in stormwater harvesting and water efficiency, yet Adelaide remains reliant on the Murray River for its water supply, and()

(ii) the Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water ( Senator Wong) has demanded an environmental dividend to reduce Adelaide’s reliance on the Murray River, in exchange for Federal Government funding for a range of urban water projects; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to work with the South Australian Government to wean Adelaide off the Murray River for the long-term sustainability of the river system.

References

  • To learn more about the extent that Adelaide relies on the Murray River for its water supplies, see here.
No Yes Not passed by a large majority

26th Mar 2007, 3:49 PM – Senate Motions - Murray-Darling Basin - Purchase water licences

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. This means that the motion was rejected.

The motion was:

That the Senate:

(a) notes:

(i) the listing of the Murray-Darling Basin in the WWF study ‘World’s top 10 rivers at risk’,(The WWF study is available for download here. )

(ii) that threats such as invasive species, over-allocation and climate change are the reasons the river system has been listed as ‘at risk’, and

(iii) the report’s recommendations that returning significantly greater environmental flows to the river will have major benefits in reducing the prevalence of some invasive species and improving river health; and

(b) calls on the Government to begin purchasing water licences without further delay in order to return environmental flows to the Murray-Darling river system.(Read more about water security in Australia on Wikipedia.)

References

Yes Yes Not passed by a small majority

26th Mar 2007, 3:45 PM – Senate Motions - World Day for Water - South Australian wetlands

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. This means that the motion was rejected.

The motion was:

That the Senate:

(a) notes:

(i) that Thursday, 22 March 2007, has been designated World Day for Water 2007, and that this year’s theme is ‘Coping with Water Scarcity’,(The official website for World Water Day 2007 is here. )

(ii) that the South Australian Government has indicated that it will cut water flows to nine key lakes, wetlands and lagoons if its water allocation falls below 50 per cent or weir levels cannot be sustained, and

(iii) the comments by Murray-Darling Basin Commission Chief Executive Wendy Craik, that climate change will have significant long-term impacts on inflows into the Murray-Darling river system; and(The Murray-Darling Basin Commission preceded the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. Read more about the Commission here.)

(b) calls on the Government to ensure that:

(i) water allocations are acquired such that supplies to wetlands in South Australia, including Lake Bonney, Gurra Gurra Lakes, Horseshoe Lagoon, Ross Lagoon and Murbko South Wetland are maintained, and

(ii) water management plans in the Murray-Darling Basin are consistent with sustainable extraction levels and can take into account projections of reduced inflows into the basin due to climate change.

References

Yes Yes Not passed by a small majority

8th Feb 2007, 10:42 AM – Senate Motions - Water - Macquarie River

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Kerry Nettle. This means that the motion was rejected.

The motion was:

That the Senate-

(a) notes that:

(i) the internationally significant Ramsar-listed wetlands, the Macquarie Marshes in New South Wales are dying because of a lack of water,

(ii) water for cotton irrigation upstream on the Macquarie River has been over-allocated and has starved the Macquarie Marshes of water, specifically the periodic flooding necessary for the marsh flora and fauna to survive, and

(iii) if there is not a substantial flood in the Macquarie Marshes in the near future, a substantial area of the marsh will be permanently damaged; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) prioritise, for immediate buy-back, the over-allocation of water licences on the Macquarie River, and

(ii) ensure that a substantial and immediate environmental flow to save the marshes is allocated as soon as the drought breaks and water is available.

Yes Yes Not passed by a small majority

7th Dec 2006, 10:03 AM – Senate Motions - Wetlands and Floodplains - Murray Darling

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Kerry Nettle. This means that the motion is rejected.

The motion was:

That the Senate-

(a) notes that:

(i) important wetlands and floodplain areas in the Murray-Darling Basin face the threat of irretrievable ecological damage as a result of river diversions and unauthorised interception banks (in areas including, but not limited to, the Condamine, Ballonne and the southern Macquarie Marshes),

(ii) unregulated and unmetered off-stream water storage, such as Cubbie Station, places an unsustainable burden on our shared water resources and undermines efforts to manage limited resources in an equitable and sustainable fashion, and

(iii) while the drought has exacerbated this situation, even a cyclical improvement in drought conditions will not improve these threatened ecosystems while these diversions remain in place; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to:

(i) work with the New South Wales and Queensland Governments to legislate and regulate to ensure uninterrupted environmental flows, and

(ii) look at options of buying out unsustainable operations such as Cubbie Station.

No Yes Not passed by a large majority

How "voted a mixture of for and 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 2 100 100
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 12 120 120
MP voted against policy 21 0 210
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 6 6 12
Total: 226 442

*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 = 226 / 442 = 51%.

And then