Teaching Law

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Has the Queensland election offered a reprieve for the environment?

I wrote late last year of changes to Queensland's Water Act. The Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act was passed on 26 November 2014, and proclaimed on 5 December. The changes included a shift in the Act's purpose from one of sustainable management of water, to one of efficiency and productivity in water management. This underlines the tenor of the substantive provisions which include 'reducing assessment and regulation of water taken by mining projects.' Both environmentalists and farmers have criticised the amendments, in recognition of the risk for local and regional environment and farming. The amendments have also been criticised for their likely adverse effects on the Great Barrier Reef.

While the amending bill was passed, not all parts of the Act have come into force. Under the amending act, changes to the Water Act will come into force on a date to be proclaimed. According to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, the staggered commencement dates for different parts of the amending act are to ensure the 'Department's systems are ready to support these reforms.'

Only a matter of weeks following the commencement of the amending act, the Newman government called an election and lost. In the meantime, the Water Act amendments have not been proclaimed. If nothing further occurs, the Water Act changes will become law on 6 December 2015, through the application of the Acts Interpretation Act.

On the basis that the ALP spoke out against the changes, it is hoped that the relevant provisions will be repealed before they come into force.

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