Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

Primary content

A Bill for an Act concerning the provision of emergency assistance for the communities of the Lower Lakes and Coorong region of South Australia
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Registered 04 Sep 2008
Introduced Senate 04 Sep 2008


















Emergency Assistance Fund for the Lower Lakes and Coorong Region of South Australia Bill 2008 [No 2]














(Circulated by authority of

Senator Nick Minchin)

Explanatory Memorandum


General Outline

The Lower Lakes and the Coorong (the “Lower Lakes Region”) form one of Australia’s most iconic Ramsar listed waterways with an abundance of local wildlife and an environment of great natural beauty and heritage value.


It is a region that supports local people and local businesses such as farmers, various small businesses, fishing and tourism businesses; all of whom depend on the Lower Lakes Region for their livelihoods. 


Local wildlife such as birds and turtles are also dependent on the Lower Lakes Region for their survival.


Real and immediate assistance is needed for the local people, local businesses, the local community and local wildlife to deal with the ongoing record low levels of water in the Lower Lakes Region.  Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert normally have a water level of 0.3m to 0.75m above sea level.   Currently the Lakes are at -0.3 and -0.4 metres below sea level.


These critically low water levels have many practical implications.  A number of farmers can no longer access water for domestic and stock purposes, let alone irrigation.  Many in the viticulture industry have been similarly affected.  Boat ramps, jetties and moorings are stranded or inoperable which poses significant challenges to the fishing and boating industries.  Furthermore, the fishing and boating industries are restricted in operation by the record low water levels.   


Additionally, at this time of difficulty for local operators, negative reporting of the Murray's predicament has led to a substantial fall in visitation and resultant reduced cash flows to local small businesses and local communities.


Local wildlife is dying due to the associated impacts of lack of water and the declining water quality, such as Murray turtles being attacked by saltwater tubeworms. 


The Emergency Assistance Fund established by this Bill for the region will be directed by the people most affected by this current situation: the local community.  Through consultation with local government, community and welfare organisations, small business including tourism operators, farmers and the fishing industry, it will be determined how to best allocate the new resources ensuring that this is assistance for local people, driven by local people.


Financial Impact

This Bill would have no direct financial impact.  An appropriate existing programme for the allocation of these funds is ‘Water for the Future’ which is an existing government budgetary measure. 




Clause 1 – Short title


This clause provides for the short title of the Act.


Clause 2 – Commencement


The Act would commence on the day on which it receives Royal Assent.


Clause 3 – Objects of the Act


The objective of the Act is to provide an Emergency Assistance Fund for the Lower Lakes Region, guided by consultations with the local community.


Clause 4 – Interpretation


This defines key terms and phrases contained in the Act.


Clause 5 – Guidelines for the scheme


This requires the responsible Minister to determine written guidelines for the operation of the Lower Lakes and Coorong Assistance Scheme (the scheme).  The guidelines must contain eligibility requirements for the payment of assistance.  The Minister’s determination is a legislative instrument under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.


Clause 6 – Priorities for assistance


The guidelines under clause 5 must ensure that immediate practical assistance is necessary and that due regard is provided to the needs of local businesses and the local wildlife.


Clause 7 – Consultation


The Minister must consult with representatives specified in the Bill.  Through consultation with specified representatives it will be determined how to allocate the new resources ensuring that this is assistance for local people, driven by local people.


Such consultation must occur before the guidelines stated in clause 5 are determined.  The consultations must continue twice each year after the commencement of the scheme.


Clause 8 – Responsibility of the Minister


This provides that the Minister has general responsibility for the operation of the scheme, including guidelines referred to in clause 5.  In the event the guidelines are disallowed by Parliament under section 42 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, the Minister must determine replacement guidelines so the scheme can continue operating.


Note that a new determination would be subject to section 48 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.  To paraphrase section 48, where an instrument or a provision of an instrument, (‘the first instrument’) has been disallowed by either House of Parliament, a replacement instrument or provision of an instrument, that is substantially the same as the first instrument, cannot be made within six months of the disallowance of the first instrument unless the relevant House consents to the remaking.


Clause 9 – Secretary to have responsibility for administration of the scheme


This provides that the Departmental Secretary has general responsibility for the administration of the scheme.


Clause 10 – Payment not to be made unless in accordance with guidelines


This prohibits any payment in relation to the scheme unless all requirements of clause 5 have been satisfied.


Clause 11 – Principles of administration


This requires the Secretary to have regard to certain broad principles in administering the scheme.


Clause 12 – Regulations


This is a standard regulation-making power for the carrying out of, or giving effect to, the Act.