22.6 C
Byron Shire
March 21, 2023

Keep the water trigger as states can’t be trusted

Latest News

Main Arm road works update

Further to last week’s Echo newspaper story Main Arm Road repairs grant unsuccessful, Council’s General Manager, Mark Arnold, told...

Other News

Make it your preference to not waste your vote

NSW upper house voting guide for the pragmatic progressive. The local candidates get most of the attention in the leadup to an election, but the Legislative Council (NSW Parliament’s upper house) also warrants some scrutiny.

Election 2023 – Clarence: George Keller 

George Keller is running for the seat of Clarence on behalf of the Sustainable Australia Party sees corruption and vested interests having more impact on MP's decisions than the genuine interests of the community.

Man dies in custody in Casino

A critical incident investigation is underway following the death of a man in Casino today.

Roller Derby returns to Byron, March 18-19

The Northern Rivers Revolt Roller Derby tournament is returning after the covid hiatus to Byron Bay on March 18–19, with six teams competing at the Cavanbah Centre. 

Election 2023 – Lismore: Ross Honniball Sustainable Australia Party

Ross Honniball is preparing for the upcoming election and is running for the Sustainable Australia Party What is your big...

Debrah Novak on mining and waste incinerators in Clarence

Independent candidate for Clancence, Debrah Novak, tells The Echo what her position is on mining in the Clarance catchment and the proposed Casino thermal waste incinerator. 

I urge crossbenchers in the Senate to retain the so called water trigger when debate on the issue is raised this week.

I introduced the Water Trigger Amendment to the Environmental Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Legislation (EPBC) towards the end of the previous Parliament and received majority support.

The amendment allows for impacts of proposed coal seam gas and large coal mining developments on water resources to be comprehensively assessed at the national level and gives the national minister the capacity to set  appropriate conditions as part of the approvals process.

The fully funded Independent Expert Scientific Committee (IESC) has also been established to provide transparent advice to the process.

The Abbott government is attempting to water down the water trigger under the guise of removing red tape and supposedly delivering a one stop shop for environmental approvals by accrediting state planning authorities to make those decisions that would previously have required the Commonwealth to assess the impacts on water resources.

There are a number of reasons that the crossbenchers should seriously consider before agreeing to any changes:

(1)  Given that after more than 100 years the Commonwealth and state governments have finally agreed on an across border Murray Darling Basin process of resolving issues it is absurd to revert to a state based arrangement for extractive industries that could impact on water quality, end of valley flows, water budgets, consumptive use and existing land uses.

(2) The loss of faith by the community in relation to the previous state-based decision making processes really demands that a national approach is preferable. This distrust has been  exacerbated by recent ICAC findings in relation to both Labor and Liberal Parties in NSW and detrimental water impacts in Queensland to the extent that there is now a real need for independent scrutiny at a federal level.

(3) The need for Bioregional Assessments of catchments that are potentially sensitive to groundwater impacts prior to the granting of approval for extractive activities. This was a recommendation of the Australian Minerals Council as far back as 2008 and was recently raised by former CEO Mitch Hooke. The Federal Independent Scientific Committee is ideally placed to provide trustworthy advice on such assessments.

(4) The need for much more information in relation to the inter-connectivity issues between groundwater and surface water and how those issues relate to sustainable agricultural practices and the integrity of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

(5) The chronic under-resourcing of the state departments to carry out this work under federal accreditation will lead to conflict issues and legal challenge.

The removal of the water trigger in the Senate would be a retrograde step.
 Those who believe that removing Commonwealth scrutiny will lead to a quicker approval process will be sadly mistaken.

Any policy that doesn’t have the confidence of the community will eventually fail. We need to maintain an independent process that people trust.

Given the deteriorating trust of government generally the Senate has the opportunity to maintain one thread of that trust and avoid any potential civil unrest.

Tony Windsor, former Member for New England



Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Admirable Statement & he’s right the states can’t be trusted, In trusting your government how do you feel about so many resigning from parliament (liberal&labor) I mean if ICAC keeps going will Baird have enough to actually run the state….


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

NSW Greens MP defends Nats smear

NSW MP Tamara Smith (Greens) has defended a political post on Facebook by Nationals candidate Josh Booyens. Booyens claims Smith was dishonest with her response...

Green support SSF and free parking at Tweed Valley Hospital

Protecting State Significant Farmland (SSF) and committing to free parking at the new Tweed Valley Hospital are issues Green candidates for Tweed, Ciara Denham,...

 Uki Refugee Project and Mt St Pat’s join forces for refugees

The Mount Saint Patrick College in Murwillumbah held an assembly of 850 students, teaching staff and members of the Uki Refugee Project to officially open their new sports house called Romero House – in honour of Saint Romero.

Scientists call for urgent groundwater management

Groundwater provides almost one-third of the nation’s water and is worth more than $34 billion to the economy, but results from a recent major review have prompted scientists to call for urgent and better appraisal of groundwater and how we manage it.