Helen Dalton's attempt to introduce a water ownership register has been thwarted again, her amended bill voted down in parliament this morning, 45 to 41.
It was supported by every lower house member except National and Liberal MPs.
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The member for Murray reintroduced her bill titled, The Water Management Amendment (Water Rights Transparency), last week, with amendments to protect privacy and strengthen disclosure requirements for irrigation corporations.
The original bill was voted down in August, Nationals members including Water Minister Melinda Pavey arguing it would threaten the privacy of 'mum and dad' farmers.
Earlier this year Mrs Pavey introduced a similar bill, which called for MPs to disclose their water interests but did not call for a public water register. It also failed to get the required numbers in parliament.
Prior to today's debate Mrs Dalton said it could be argued that the White Pages violated privacy more than a water register.
"But if the NSW Government is using privacy as their excuse, this new clause addresses this concern," she said.
"Now, if they vote against the bill, we will know they are protecting their donors and foreign corporates".
However, the argument posed by Mrs Pavey today, was that their office had received correspondence from irrigation corporations voicing their concern about Mrs Dalton's amended bill.
Mrs Pavey quoted Coleambally Irrigation Limited which wrote that it was, "extremely concerned this bill would provide increased opportunity for vexatious behaviour towards individuals and create conflict in our region".
She followed up with comments from Murray Irrigation, which said it did not feel there was sufficient consultation with irrigation companies about the proposed legislation; and Murrumbidgee Irrigation, which said it was concerned it placed requirements on irrigation companies which were not reasonable or practical.
Public consultations on a water register planned
Mrs Pavey announced today that the NSW Government would begin public consultation in November to determine what improvements should be made to existing water registers.
The consultations are planned to be in conjunction with the ACCC report into the water markets which is due in February 2021.
"We need to ensure that the details captured on our water register are strong enough to ensure transparency, but don't go too far by putting farmer's details at risk," Mrs Pavey said.
"The ACCC report highlighted the potential dangers to farmers of having too much information on the register and indicated a number of unintended negative consequences of such an approach."
Mrs Dalton argued strengthening of the disclosure requirements of irrigation companies was actually included in Mrs Pavey's water transparency bill.
"Today, Melinda Pavey says we need to wait for the ACCC to hand down their final recommendations, I find that interesting because she introduced her own bill before the ACCC report," Mrs Dalton said.
"When does this government ever implement any inquiries anyway ... what a ridiculous delaying tactic.
"It's just disgraceful that the National Party today are going to kill the chance of Australia having a proper, suitable water register for the first time ... NSW could lead the way and the other states could follow."
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