Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

Primary content

A Bill for an Act to amend the Water Act 2007, and for related purposes
For authoritative information on the progress of bills and on amendments proposed to them, please see the House of Representatives Votes and Proceedings, and the Journals of the Senate as available on the Parliament House website.
Registered 29 Nov 2012
Introduced Senate 27 Nov 2012





















Water Amendment (Save the Murray-Darling Basin) Bill 2012












(Circulated by authority of Senator Hanson-Young)














The Water Amendment (Save the Murray-Darling Basin) Bill 2012 will amend the Water Act 2007 to supplement and clarify the requirement of ‘best available science’ currently in the Act and establish minimum environmental outcomes which the Basin Plan must achieve.





Clause 1 – Short Title


1.      This is a formal provision specifying the short title.


Clause 2 – Commencement


2.      The Bill's provisions are to commence the day it receives Royal Assent


Clause 3 – Schedules


3.      This clause provides that an Act that is specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule, and any other item in a Schedule operates according to its terms.




Schedule 1 – Amendments of Water Act 2007



Items 1 and 2 – Additional Considerations for Environmentally Sustainable Limits


4.      Item 1 inserts a new section 20A into the Water Act 2007 to clarify the establishment and enforcement of environmentally sustainable extraction limits in section 20 of the Act. The Basin Plan must comply with these new provisions.


Under proposed subsection (2), the Basin plan must continuously take into account the most up to date climate science.


Proposed subsection (3) prohibits further groundwater diversions under the Basin Plan unless the proposed extraction has been assessed using a regional scale, multi-layer, transient ground water flow model that is linked to existing surface water models. It must demonstrate the cumulative impact on surface and groundwater flows and the long-term impacts on aquifer recharge. It will also require the report to demonstrate how the proposed water extraction relates to the environmentally sustainable limits under the Basin Plan.


Proposed subsection (4) enhances the required environmental outcomes of salinity, barrage flows and indicator targets set by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in key parts of the Murray-Darling Basin.


5.      Item 2 clarifies the basis upon which the Basin Plan is to be developed to ensure that the 122 environmental water recovery indicator targets set by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority are complied with as far as possible. It will also require the publication of all modelling and analysis.




Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011



Water Amendment (Save the Murray-Darling Basin) Bill 2012

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.



1.1                  The purpose of the bill is to supplement and clarify the minimum environmental outcomes that the Basin Plan must achieve and further tighten the requirements to satisfy the ‘best available science’ under the Act.

1.2                  The bill maintains all other aspects of the current Water Act 2007.


Human rights implications

2.1                  Because this bill is confined solely to enhancing the requirements and application of scientific research  in relation to hydrology and ecology within the Murray Darling Basin this bill does not engage any human rights in a positive or negative manner.



2.2                  The Bill is compliant with the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.





Senator Hanson-Young