Don’t give water trigger to states, farmers urge senators

Beef Central, 26/08/2014

More than 180 rural and indigenous leaders, scientists and farmers from across Australia have signed an appeal calling for Australian Senators to vote down the Abbott Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014 in the Senate this week.

The group, which includes former Federal MP Tony Windsor, say that if passed, the Bill will hand groundwater assessment powers and approvals for coal and coal seam gas mining to state and territory governments.

In an open letter to all Senators, the group (all signatories are identified below) says the future of Australia’s scarce water resources is too important to leave to State Governments with a conflict of interest and a history of failure with mining regulation.

As the former member for New England Tony Windsor introduced a 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.

Mr Windsor says 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.

He said there were a number of reasons why cross-bench Senators should vote in favour of retaining the water trigger:

  • “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.
  • “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.
  • “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.
  • “The need for much more information in relation to the interconnectivity issues between groundwater and surface water and how those issues relate to sustainable agricultural practices and the integrity of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
  • “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 open letter released yesterday reads as follows:


Australian Senators,

Water is integral to farming, food security, Indigenous life and culture, our communities and Australia’s economy. It is too important to leave to state and territory governments and their vested interests, which have been especially highlighted through the recent NSW ICAC investigations into political corruption.

All political parties voted for the water trigger to be added to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act so the Federal Government could assess impacts of mining developments on our precious groundwater, yet the Abbott Government now proposes to hand these powers to the states and territories.

Decisions over groundwater are too important to hand to individual states, and water knows no boundaries. A decision on groundwater in one state will affect neighbouring states. The Great Artesian Basin, for example, covers three states, NSW, Queensland and South Australia, as well as the Northern Territory. Gas companies want to puncture this essential water resource for inland Australia with hundreds of wells.

We implore all senators to vote against the Abbott Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014, which will hand groundwater assessment powers to states and territories.

The National Party will be voting against the farmers’ interests if they vote for the bill. The Palmer United Party and Senator Ricky Muir have shown they will stand up for the community and now they have the opportunity to show they support farmers and Indigenous communities across Australia and vote down the bill.

The names of scientists, community leaders, farmers and Indigenous leaders calling to keep the Federal Water Trigger:

  • Tony Windsor, “Cintra”, Werris Creek, NSW
  • Tom Crothers, Ex General Manager for Water Allocation and Planning in the Queensland
  • Department of Environment and Resource Management. Redland Bay, Queensland
  • Dr Matthew Currell, Lecturer, Hydrogeology & Environmental Engineering School of Civil,
  • Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Melbourne VIC 3000
  • John Polglase, Geochemist, Divstrat Pty Ltd, Inverell, NSW
  • Andrew Pursehouse, Pursehouse Farms Pty Ltd, ‘Breeza Station’, Breeza, NSW
  • Angus Emmott, Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee, Queensland
  • Bob Morrish, Chair of the Cooper Creek Protection Group, Queensland
  • Rod Copeland, Dongara, Western Australia
  • Gerry Fogarty, Central West Aboriginal Corporation, Queensland
  • Scott Gorringe, Mithaka Native Title Claimants, Queensland
  • Reverend John Brentnall, Uniting Church, Gunnedah, NSW
  • Hugh Humphries, Rabobank, Moree, NSW
  • Dolly Talbott representing Gomeroi Traditional Custodians’ Elders and community comprising 181 people
  • Cheryl Buchanan, Chairperson, Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations
  • Dr Irene Watson, Kungari Aboriginal Heritage Association, Representing the Tanganekald
  • and Meintangk First Nations Peoples of the South East of SA, Kingston South Australia
  • Michael Champion, Champions Mountain Organics Mangrove Mountain NSW
  • Hutchesson Family, ‘Jerilea’, Coonawarra/Penola, South Australia
  • R.I. & J. M. Telford, “The Sycamores” 23 Sycamore Road, Glenburnie via Mt. Gambier, South Australia
  • James Bishop, Bando Pty Ltd, “Bando”, Mullaley NSW
  • Sonya Marshall, “Teranna” Burren Junction NSWebbie Dalziel, ‘Tea Tree Springs’, Brucknell, VIC
  • Jane Stevenson, 235 Currricabark Rd, Gloucester, NSW
  • Ben and Phoebe Clift, ‘Tathra’, Spring Ridge NSW
  • Jess McKinlay, Richmond Hills, Barcaldine, Barcaldine Regional Council, QLD.
  • Michael Marshall, “Teranna” Burren Junction NSW
  • Gary & Jann Moore, ‘Canah’ Werris Creek, NSW
  • Paul Mibus, Sinclair Settlement Rd, Gasfield Free Drumborg
  • Donna Burt, ‘Five Mile’, Caroona NSW
  • Angela & Peter Martin, ‘Dalkeith’, Mullaley, NSW
  • Jill Sampson, Maidenwell, Qld
  • Noela Edwards, ‘Gracevale’, Emerald Qld
  • Rebecca McNicholl, Moola Rd, Ashgrove Qld
  • Comlata Inc, Fal Brook Wildlife Refuge & Conservation Area, Mt Royal, NSW
  • Kirrily Blomfield, ‘Colarado’, Quirindi, NSW
  • Derek Blomfield, ‘Colarado’, Quirindi, NSW
  • Patricia Julien, Mackay Conservation Group, Mackay Qld
  • Sue Kerr, ‘Merndah’, Walgett, NSW
  • Andrew Kerr, ‘Gunyillah’, Coonamble, NSW
  • Heather Ranclaud, ‘Karoola’, Willow Tree NSW
  • The Craig Family, Umagarlee, Breeza, NSW
  • Upper Mooki Landcare Group, Namoi Catchment, NSW
  • Cherie, Mark, Nicola, Sam and Olivia Robinson, “Nyleve”, Coonamble NSW
  • Stuart and Denise Murray, People for the Plains, “Uambi”, Baan Baa, NSWugh and Pam Barrett, People for the Plains, “Como”, Narrabri, NSW
  • Nicky Chirlian, SOS Liverpool Plains, “Tallawang”, Willow Tree, NSW
  • Robyn and Jim King, Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord, “Montanta”, Mullaley, NSW
  • David McCabe, Cameby Concerned Citizens, “Wilga Park”, Queensland
  • Anne Kennedy, Great Artesian Basin Protection Group, “Yuma” Coonamble, NSW
  • Phil Laird, Maules Creek Community Council, Maules Creek, NSW
  • Julie Lyford, Groundswell Gloucester, Gloucester, NSW
  • Phil Herbert, Mary’s Mount Protection Alliance, “Teralba”, Mary’s Mount, NSW
  • Joe Hill, Cambey Concerned Citizens Group, “Wandaloo”, Miles, Queensland
  • Penny Blatchford, “Innesfail”, Bellata NSW
  • Megan Kuhn, “Makiwa”, Bundella, NSW
  • Ros Druce, “Wongalea”, Maules Creek, NSW
  • Laura Hartley, “Colonsay Farm” Coonabarabran, NSW
  • Alistair and Jenny Donaldson, “Neotsfield”, Willala, NSW
  • Margaret Fleck, “Kilchurn”, Mullaley, NSW
  • Victoria Hamilton, “Erroldoon”, Wee Waa, NSW
  • Lousie Somerville, East Lismore, NSW
  • Sandra Goldsmith, Clunes, NSW
  • Jenny Leunig, Goonellabah, NSW
  • Clare Twomey, North Lismore, NSW
  • Rosemary and Ross Joseph, Bentley, NSW
  • Glen and Nicki Laws, “Coolibah Park”, Cutella, Queensland
  • Peter and Meg Nielsen, Bentley NSW
  • Craig Shaw and Paul Frost, “Oakdale”, Upper Bylong, NSWob McCreath, “Prestbury”, Felton, Queensland
  • Christopher Robertson, “Milverton”, Lower Belford, NSW
  • Sharyn Munro, “Skywood Springs”, Mt Royal NSW
  • Janet Robertson, “Tara”, Tooraweenah, NSW
  • Billy Fox, “SoftEdges”, Gorae Victoria
  • James Whelan, “Black Bulga”, Monkerai
  • Christopher Russell and Dianne Montague, “Wooralook”, Berrico, NSW
  • Kate and Hugh Reardon-Smith, “Wingfield”, Cambooya, Queensland
  • CD & JE Imrie, “Gleniston”, Ulan, NSW
  • KE & AC Smith, “The Mount”, Dandaragan Western Australia
  • Christopher Turl, Oakey, Queensland
  • John Howard “Glenlyall”, Grassmere, Victoria
  • Una Allender, “Greenacres”, Karmala Lane, Lake Bolac, Victoria
  • Sarah and Matthew Ciesiolka, “The Pines”, Wee Waa, NSW
  • Anne and Mervyn Ciesiolka, “Eskdale”, Wee Waa, NSW
  • Phillip, Carolyn and Warrick Nankivell, “Ulumbie”, Spring Hill, NSW
  • Greg Wylie, 4091 Princes Hwy, Lyons, Victoria
  • Don and July Leadbetter, “Crawford Downs”, Lyons, Victoria
  • Sally North, Greenwald, Victoria
  • Nancy Spark, “Langford Downs”, 285 Bischof’s Rd, Cutella, Queensland
  • Julie Anne Hart, Heywood, Victoria
  • Ken Brown, “Cavanbagh West”, Invergowrie, NSW
  • Michelle Sherriff, Narrawong Victoriaulie Ann Prowse, “Gwendalan”, Blackville, NSW
  • Annie Ryan and Darcy Tordoff, “Mosswood”, Craven, NSW
  • Jeremy Rundell, Portland, Victoria
  • John Graham, 102 Kent Road, Hamilton, Victoria
  • Stuart Hart, Gellibrand River, Victoria
  • Alan Michael Prowse, “Gwendalan”, Blackville, NSW
  • Meg Leathart and Peter Thompson, “Tibuc”, Coonabarabran, NSW
  • Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, Bylong, NSW
  • Glenugie Guardians, NSW
  • Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas, Armidale, NSW
  • Robbie Barclay, “Coralbignie”, Wee Waa NSW
  • Nick and Prue Lee, ‘Bindaree’, Quirindi NSW
  • Kate Schwager, ‘Bonny Hill’, Merah North NSW
  • Brian Connor, 41 Judith Street, Armidale, NSW
  • Pam & Rob Hannaford, 1 Macleay Street, Gloucester NSW
  • Simon Burt, “Five Mile”, Caroona NSW
  • Helen Smith, ‘Blue Gums’, Wee Waa NSW
  • Peta Tynan, ‘Rivendell’, Gloucester NSW
  • Sarah Reardon, “Five Mile” 672 Mystery Road, Caroona NSW
  • Sarah Moles, President, Southern Downs Protection Group, Warwick, Queensland
  • Nicki Laws, Secretary, Oakey Coal Action Alliance, Oakey, Queensland
  • Dean Draper, Kyogle Group Against Gas, Kyogle, NSW
  • Jill Lyons, Richmond Valley Group Against Gas, Casino, NSW
  • Billy Fox, Gasfield Free Glenelg, Portland, Victoriannika Dean, Hunter Community Environment Centre, Hunter Valley, NSW
  • Alan Manson, Frack Free Grovedale, Grovedale, Victoria
  • Dianne Montague, President, Gloucester Residents in Partnership, Gloucester, NSW
  • Wayne Olling, Secretary, Blacktown & District Environment Group, Doonside, NSW
  • John Edwards, Clarence Environment Centre, Grafton, NSW
  • Liz Stops, Bentley Gate Keepers, Bentley NSW
  • Denis White, Save Bunnan Inc, Bunnan, NSW
  • Nan Nicholson, Channon Gas Defence Network, Lismore, NSW
  • Gay Spies, NSW, President, Willoughby Environmental Protection Association
  • Kaye Osborn, Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining Inc, Wollongong, NSW
  • Peter Couch, Gasfield Free Drumborg, Glenelg Shire, Victoria
  • Will D’Arcy, Stop CSG Sydney Water Catchment, Oakdale, NSW
  • Denise Deane, Yuraygir Coast and Range Alliance, NSW
  • Lisa Norman, SOS Liverpool Plains, Liverpool Plains, NSW
  • Brian Marshall, Blue Mountains Conservation Society, Blue Mountains NSW
  • Andrea Balcome, Sustainable Agriculture & Communities Alliance Inc, Western Victoria
  • Peter Moir, Merran Moir and Donald Blair, Dairy Partnership, Panmure, Victoria
  • Kevin Cotter, The Clean Food Garden, Drumborg, Victoria
  • Irene Ghannage, Frack Free Geraldton, Geraldton, Western Australia
  • Marie Grant, “Walla Park”, Werris Creek NSW
  • Allan Grant, “Walla Park”, Werris Creek NSW
  • Jane Judd, Friends of the Pilliga, Coonabarabran, NSW
  • Coonabarabran Residents Against Gas, Coonabarabran, NSWave and Danielle Bonnington, “Bonnayr”, Curban NSW
  • Paul Anderton, Thomas Anderton, Patrick Anderton, Margaret Fleck, “Kilchurn” Mullaley NSW
  • Garry Reed, Reeds Road, Collinsville via Scottville QLD
  • David , Catherine , Georgia ,Ellie and Grace Peart, ‘Tondeburine’, Gulargambone NSW
  • Dr Catherine Pye and Dr Clive Carlyle, Morwell, Fyans Creek, Halls Gap, Victoria
  • Geoff Welham, ‘Upson Downs’, Clarence Way, Copmanhurst NSW
  • Tim & Emma Langfield, ‘Beltana’, Spring Ridge NSW
  • Joy Pascoe, Oakey Coal Action Alliance, Oakey, Queensland
  • Bob Roobottom, of 4 / 219 Victoria St, Taree NSW
  • Simon Perry, ‘Ridgesong,’ Bucketty, NSW
  • Gasfield Free Mountain Districts Committee
  • Kerry and David Arnott, Dougherties Rd, Portland West, Victoria
  • Chris and Graham Mansfield, Nowendoc Rd, Mount George NSW
  • I & D Gerrand, ‘Benaroon’, Johns River NSW
  • Patricia Duddy, ‘Rossmar Park, Liverpool Plains, Quirindi NSW
  • Alison Zinsli, ‘Wingarth’, Caffrey’s Flat, NSW
  • Brian and Jacqui Winn, Possum Brush farm, Taree NSW
  • John & Keiran Knight, ‘Carbeen’, Carbeen Farming Pty Ltd, Wee Waa NSW
  • Andrew Bowen, Wee Waa NSW
  • Karin Hensen, Fassifern, Killabakh, NSW
  • Bruce Robertson, ‘Bo-Warra’, Burrell Ck NSW
  • Ken and Shirley Billings, Manor Rd, Harrington NSW
  • Belinda Robertson, ‘Bo-Warra’, Burrell Creek NSW
  • Richard and Judi Makim, Moredun Rd, Ben Lomond NSW
  • Pat Nesbitt, ‘Woodford’, Victoria
  • Dr Andrea S. Griffin, Dudley, NSW
  • Nick & Leanne Emery, Blackford area via Kingston South Australia
  • Ray Dawes, Gloucester NSW
  • Ken Grundy, Martins Road, Naracoorte South Australia
  • Trudy-Anne Doyle, Tarandi Rd Mt Gambier, South Australia
  • Colin Dannevig, Rosewood District Protection Organisation Inc, Qld
  • Prue Hutchinson, “Weatalibah”, Cryon, NSW
  • Beth Williams, Hon. Secretary, Armidale Branch National Parks Association of NSW, 25 The Avenue, Armidale NSW 2350
  • Cathy Merchant, President, Ryde/Hunters Hill Flora and Fauna Preservation Society, Sydney, NSW
  • Sue Westgarth, Limestone Coast Protection Alliance, South Australia
  • Cam Laurie, Rawdon Vale East, Gloucester NSW
  • Heather Gibbons, Robe, South Australia
  • Gail Campiao, Stratcedar, Manning Valley NSW
  • Tracey Larkin, Mt Barney Lodge, Mt Barney, Qld
  • Ross Glover , Wollongbar NSW
  • Erica Bates, ‘Benwerrin’, Beaudesert Qld
  • Sue Wilmott, ‘Koumala’, Blackville NSW
  • Carolyn Bishop, Treasurer, The Mullaley Gas & Pipeline Accord, Inc. Mullaley, NSW
  • Robyn Juteram, Bucketts Way, Kundibakh NSW
  • Christine Stanton, Manning Clean Water Action Group Inc Taree NSW




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