Parliament has passed laws that make Queensland the first Australian State or Territory to require climate change and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ values to be addressed in future water planning.
New laws passed today require government planners and any future Minister to take potential climate change effects into account when developing and approving the state’s water plans.
The changes also now require the values and interests of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders to be considered.
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham told Parliament today that farmers could use information about the likely impact of climate change to inform on farm decisions about water use.
“The Department of Environment and Science is working on modelling to ensure that farmers have the best available information on climate risk to water availability to enhance their decision making,” he said.
The legislation will also lock in the consideration of Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander peoples’ values.
“The Queensland Government has played a leadership role in enhancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ involvement in water planning,” Dr Lynham said.
“Almost 40 per cent of submissions received in response to our draft Condamine-Balonne water plan and draft Border Rivers and Moonie water plan in July 2018 were from Aboriginal people.”
The bill also makes previously locked-down water supplies available to farmers.
Dr Lynham said the changes made water reserved for future infrastructure like dams and weirs available now for up to three years.
“The state’s 23 water plans currently set aside about 990,000 megalitres of water as strategic infrastructure reserves,” he said.
“Under the changes passed today, water can be released for up to three years for productive uses.
“This is a win-win: it frees up unused water to support short-term economic development opportunities, predominantly in regional Queensland, while ensuring water availability for future dams.”
The bill also implements independent recommendations into how landholders and the state’s $60 billion resources industry interact including requiring companies to pay for dispute resolution and costs of preparing for a conduct and compensation agreement.
The changes will take effect progressively through the rest of this year and into 2019.
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham