Rushed laws rolling out the red carpet for water speculators nothing to do with economic recovery
The Environment Centre NT (ECNT) is calling on the Gunner Government to drop its rushed Water Act amendments in the Statute Law Amendment (Territory Economic Reconstruction) Bill 2021 (TERC Bill) due to be debated in the Northern Territory Parliament.
Last week, Territorians stood together for our water, signed petitions and took action and as a result the Gunner Government has thankfully delayed its proposed Environmental Laws Omnibus Bills. These changes would have further weakened our water laws.
However, the Government is inexcusably sticking to its changes that will pave the way for water speculation with reduced oversight. The changes on the agenda would allow for a completely new category of licence - ‘headwater licences’ - to be granted for specific developers, such as NT Land Corporation. Under these licences, developers would get water for free without any intention of developing the land themselves, and then will be able to onsell sub-licences to other developers with next to no regulatory scrutiny.
In addition, significant discretionary power will be transferred to the Water Controller to extend the length of water licences and decide how the public will be notified about dam proposals.
ECNT’s Co-Director Kirsty Howey said: “These changes will weaken our already shoddy water laws, which the Environmental Defenders Office only this week diagnosed as among the worst in the country.”
“The changes to the Water Act embedded in the TERC Bill have absolutely nothing to do with economic recovery, and were not recommended by the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission (TERC). What we’re seeing is a Government desperately trying to push through these laws, despite only last week acknowledging the strong community concerns with changes to water laws. What’s left in this bill is still bad news for the water all Territorians rely on.”
“Territorians are rightly asking what’s the rush? Instead of this poorly thought out legislation to give more water to big developers with less public oversight, we need to see the Government’s public consultation on its Water Security Strategy and a legislated Safe Drinking Water Act before this legislation is brought to the chamber. Today is a day for the Gunner Government to show it is listening – starting with withdrawing this water bill and listening to Territorians who want better water futures.”
Please see attachment for an explanation of the TERC Bill amendments.
Kirsty Howey: 0488 928 811