Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

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A Bill for an Act to establish an inquiry into the management of the Murray-Darling Basin, and for related purposes
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Registered 14 Feb 2019
Introduced Senate 13 Feb 2019

2016‑2017‑2018‑2019

 

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

Presented and read a first time

 

 

 

 

Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry Bill 2019

 

No.      , 2019

 

(Senator Hanson‑Young)

 

 

 

A Bill for an Act to establish an inquiry into the management of the Murray‑Darling Basin, and for related purposes

  

  

  


Contents

Part 1—Preliminary                                                                                                             1

1............ Short title............................................................................................. 1

2............ Commencement................................................................................... 2

3............ Simplified outline of this Act.............................................................. 2

4............ Act binds Crown................................................................................. 2

5............ Definitions.......................................................................................... 3

Part 2—Establishing the Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry               4

6............ Establishment of Commission............................................................. 4

7............ Terms of reference.............................................................................. 4

8............ Report to the Parliament...................................................................... 5

Part 3—Powers of the Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry 7

9............ Hearings.............................................................................................. 7

10.......... Commission not bound by the rules of evidence................................. 7

11.......... Application of the Royal Commissions Act 1902................................ 7

12.......... Application of Commonwealth laws................................................... 8

Part 4—Other matters                                                                                                         9

13.......... Remuneration and allowances of Commissioner................................. 9

14.......... End of Commissioner’s appointment.................................................. 9

15.......... Staff of the Commission..................................................................... 9

16.......... Legal and financial assistance............................................................ 10

17.......... Commission may communicate information..................................... 10

18.......... Regulations....................................................................................... 10

 


A Bill for an Act to establish an inquiry into the management of the Murray‑Darling Basin, and for related purposes

The Parliament of Australia enacts:

Part 1Preliminary

  

1  Short title

                   This Act is the Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry Act 2019.

2  Commencement

             (1)  Each provision of this Act specified in column 1 of the table commences, or is taken to have commenced, in accordance with column 2 of the table. Any other statement in column 2 has effect according to its terms.

 

Commencement information

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Provisions

Commencement

Date/Details

1.  Sections 1 and 2 and anything in this Act not elsewhere covered by this table

The day after this Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

2.  Sections 3 to 18

The day the Consolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated to fund the Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry.

 

Note:          This table relates only to the provisions of this Act as originally enacted. It will not be amended to deal with any later amendments of this Act.

             (2)  Any information in column 3 of the table is not part of this Act. Information may be inserted in this column, or information in it may be edited, in any published version of this Act.

3  Simplified outline of this Act

This Act establishes the Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry.

The Commission has the same powers as a Royal Commission.

4  Act binds Crown

                   This Act binds the Crown in each of its capacities.

5  Definitions

                   In this Act:

Basin State has the same meaning as in the Water Act 2007.

Basin water resources has the same meaning as in the Water Act 2007.

Commission means the Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry established under section 6.

Commissioner means the Commissioner of the Commission appointed under subsection 6(2).

environmental watering has the same meaning as in the Water Act 2007.

Judge means a Judge of a court created by the Parliament or of the Supreme Court of a State.

legal practitioner means a barrister, a solicitor, a barrister and solicitor, or a legal practitioner, of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State.

Murray‑Darling Basin has the same meaning as in the Water Act 2007.

President means the President of the Senate.

public agency means:

                     (a)  an agency of the Commonwealth (within the meaning of the Water Act 2007); or

                     (b)  an agency of a State (within the meaning of that Act).

Note:          An agency of the Commonwealth, or an agency of a State, includes individuals such as Ministers and persons holding offices established by or under a law of the Commonwealth or the State.

Speaker means the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

State includes the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.

Part 2Establishing the Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry

  

6  Establishment of Commission

             (1)  The Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry is established by this section.

             (2)  The Commission is constituted by a Commissioner appointed for this subsection by a resolution of the Senate.

             (3)  A person is not eligible for appointment as a Commissioner unless the person is or has been a Judge.

7  Terms of reference

             (1)  The Commission must inquire and advise the Parliament in relation to the following matters:

                     (a)  any misconduct relating to, or affecting, the management of the Basin water resources;

                     (b)  the legislative and administrative framework for implementing, managing and enforcing the Basin Plan;

                     (c)  the impact that the implementation, management and enforcement of the Basin Plan has had on the environment, agriculture and communities that rely on the Basin water resources;

                     (d)  the suitability and effectiveness of the existing legislative and administrative framework for the management of the Basin water resources, including any adverse effects that framework has had on the management of the Basin water resources (whether or not those effects are the result of misconduct);

                     (e)  the allocation of funds by the Commonwealth and the Basin States to implement the Basin Plan, and the impact of funded projects (including water buybacks and efficiency measures) in facilitating environmental watering in the Murray‑Darling Basin;

                      (f)  the likely impact of climate change to the Basin water resources, and any appropriate measures to take to adapt those resources in light of that impact;

                     (g)  any matter reasonably incidental to a matter mentioned in the above paragraphs.

             (2)  Without limiting paragraph (1)(a), misconduct includes any conduct of a person or body (whether or not a public agency):

                     (a)  that adversely affects, or that could adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the honest or impartial performance or exercise of a public agency’s functions or powers; or

                     (b)  that constitutes or involves an offence against a law of the Commonwealth or a law of the State; or

                     (c)  that constitutes or involves a contravention of a civil penalty provision under a law of the Commonwealth or of a State; or

                     (d)  that would attract any other penalty under a law of the Commonwealth or a State, including a breach of a standard or licence condition; or

                     (e)  that constitutes or involves breach of trust, fraud in office, nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance, oppression, extortion or imposition.

             (3)  The Commission is not required to inquire, or to continue to inquire, into a particular matter to the extent that it is satisfied that the matter has been, is being, or will be, sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by:

                     (a)  another inquiry or investigation; or

                     (b)  a criminal or civil proceeding.

             (4)  In inquiring and advising in accordance with subsection (1), the Commission may give priority to matters which, in the Commission’s opinion, have greater potential for harm.

8  Report to the Parliament

             (1)  The Commission must prepare a report setting out its findings and recommendations.

             (2)  The report must be submitted to the President and the Speaker before the end of a period of 1 year starting on this section’s commencement. The period may be extended by a resolution of the Senate.

             (3)  The Commissioner may exclude from the report any information that the Commissioner is satisfied would have one or more of the following effects if laid before either House of the Parliament:

                     (a)  a person who has been or may be charged with an offence might not receive a fair trial for the offence;

                     (b)  the conduct of an investigation of a breach or possible breach of the law might be prejudiced;

                     (c)  the existence or identity of a confidential source of information in relation to the enforcement or administration of the law might be disclosed or a person enabled to ascertain the existence or identity of that source;

                     (d)  there might be prejudice to the safety or reputation of a person.

             (4)  As soon as practicable after receiving the report, the President and the Speaker must cause copies of the report to be laid before the Senate and the House of Representatives.

             (5)  The Minister must table the Government’s response to the report within 6 months after copies of the report are laid before the Senate.

Part 3Powers of the Murray‑Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry

  

9  Hearings

             (1)  The Commission may hold hearings.

             (2)  The hearings may be held at such places as the Commission determines.

             (3)  Subject to this Act, the procedure at a hearing is to be such as the Commission determines.

10  Commission not bound by the rules of evidence

                   The Commission is not bound by the rules of evidence and may inform itself on any matter in such manner as it thinks fit.

11  Application of the Royal Commissions Act 1902

             (1)  Subject to this section, the Royal Commissions Act 1902, and regulations made under that Act (the Royal Commissions Regulations), apply in relation to the Commission, and to the Commissioners conducting it, as if:

                     (a)  the Commission were a Royal Commission; and

                     (b)  the Commissioner were a member of a Royal Commission.

             (2)  The Governor‑General may make regulations (under this subsection), amending the Royal Commissions Regulations, as the Royal Commissions Regulations apply in accordance with subsection (1) of this section.

             (3)  Sections 10 and 15 of the Royal Commissions Act 1902, in their application in accordance with subsection (1) of this section, have effect as if references in those sections to offences against that Act included references to such offences as apply in accordance with subsection (1) of this section.

12  Application of Commonwealth laws

                   The law of the Commonwealth (including the general law) applies in the same way in relation to the Commission as it would apply in relation to a Royal Commission.

Part 4Other matters

  

13  Remuneration and allowances of Commissioner

             (1)  The Commissioner is to be paid the remuneration that is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. If no determination of that remuneration by the Tribunal is in operation, the Commissioner is to be paid the remuneration that is prescribed in the regulations.

             (2)  The Commissioner is to be paid the allowances that are prescribed in the regulations.

             (3)  This section has effect subject to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973.

             (4)  However, the Commissioner is not entitled to remuneration and allowances under this section if:

                     (a)  the Commissioner is a Judge; and

                     (b)  the Commissioner is still receiving remuneration and annual allowances as a Judge.

14  End of Commissioner’s appointment

                   The Commissioner’s appointment ends if:

                     (a)  the Commissioner submits a report in accordance with section 8 to the Speaker and the President; or

                     (b)  the Senate passes a resolution to end the Commissioner’s appointment.

15  Staff of the Commission

             (1)  The Commission may employ such persons as it considers necessary for the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers.

             (2)  An employee is to be employed on the terms and conditions that the Commission determines in writing.

16  Legal and financial assistance

             (1)  A person who is appearing or is about to appear, or a person who is entitled to appear, before the Commission may apply to the Commission for assistance under this section.

             (2)  The Commission may, if it is satisfied that:

                     (a)  it would involve substantial hardship to the person to refuse the application; or

                     (b)  the circumstances of the case are of such a nature that the application should be granted;

authorise the provision to that person of such legal or financial assistance in respect of that person’s appearance as the Commission determines.

             (3)  The authorisation given may be conditional or unconditional.

             (4)  The Minister must ensure that any legal or financial assistance authorised by the Commission is provided.

17  Commission may communicate information

             (1)  The Commissioner may disclose information obtained by the Commission in the course of its inquiry to the following if the information relates, or may relate, to a failure to comply with any law (including the Basin Plan) relevant to the management of the Basin water resources:

                     (a)  the Murry‑Darling Basin Authority;

                     (b)  any public agency with responsibilities relating to water management.

             (2)  This authority given under this section is in addition to the authority given to the Commission to disclose information under section 6P of the Royal Commissions Act 1902.

18  Regulations

                   The Governor‑General may make regulations prescribing matters:

                     (a)  required or permitted by this Act to be prescribed; or

                     (b)  necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.