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Davey: Water bill on hold

Davey: Water bill on hold

More time needed to investigate 'jurisdictional legalities'

New South Wales Nationals Senator Perin Davey will delay the introduction of a Private Senators Bill to amend the Water Act to allow more time to investigate jurisdictional legalities.

The bill created alongside fellow Nationals Damian Drum and Member for Mallee Anne Webster would require the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to release a portion of water to help farmers continue with production.

In a statement released by Senator Davey, she says that they're were unintended consequences.

"We cannot introduce an amendment without being absolutely certain that there are no negative unintended consequences and that is what came out repeatedly in the consultations I undertook," says Davey.

Speaking in relation to Mick Keelty's role in the Murray Darling Basin Report, the senator says that if strong enough measures are recommended, it may make the bill redundant.

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Mallee MP Anne Webster said irrigators in her region were concerned that the proposal would not address the core concerns about the water market and interstate water sharing arrangements.

“Irrigators told me they were concerned that the draft bill would only benefit the big end of town and that certainly is not our objective,” Dr Webster said.

In response to the delay of the bill, Chair of Southern Riverina Irrigators, Chris Brooks says the Private Members Bill was never going to get off the ground.

"The proposal was so insignificant. The trigger factors that you had to be on your knees, exactly like we are now. It had to be two successive year of drought and they were going to give you a cupful," says Brooks.

The chances of getting it across the line were zero, because they didn't have support from their own party. It just felt like a 'look at me, aren't we good, we're trying' when they're insignificant and doing nothing."

There is currently no timeframe for the bill.

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