Water Journal : Water Journal June 2014
WATER JUNE 2014 14 CrossCurrent National The Australian Government has detailed how it will deliver on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on time and in full, with priority given to water-saving infrastructure investments in a new Water Recovery Strategy. The Government promised to cap the volume of buybacks at 1500 GL and, instead, recover water for the environment via infrastructure investment. The CSIRO will conduct a "rapid'' study of all water catchments across northern Australia to identify potential new dam sites as part of the Coalition's plan to dramatically increase the development of the region. Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, has launched a green paper on developing northern Australia that will examine special economic zones, changes to indigenous land tenure to allow communities greater economic use of their holdings, and the potential use of foreign aid to train students from developing countries in northern universities. The Australian Council of Learned Academics (ACOLA) has launched a new report, which for the rst time con rms the importance of innovation, science and research to Australia as critical drivers of productivity and the building of future industries. The role of science, research and technology in lifting Australian productivity makes 25 key ndings about Australia's current performance and outlines opportunities to boost innovation driven productivity. The Australian Greens have said the future sustainability of Australian water is at risk after questions at Senate Estimates on the transferral of the role of the National Water Commission were left largely unanswered. "As the rampant expansion of the mining industry continues across the nation, an independent commission to oversee the impacts of mining on our water supply is crucial," said Greens spokesperson for Water, Senator Lee Rhiannon. The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) has announced the resignation of Chief Executive Of cer, Mr Matt Linnegar. NFF President, Brent Finlay, said that Mr Linnegar has made a signi cant contribution to the organisation and to Australian agriculture. "Matt has been at the NFF helm for over three years and in that time has successfully guided the organisation through an often tumultuous environment. Matt has provided valuable strategic leadership to the NFF including the far-reaching effects of the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture," said Mr Finlay. The Australian Water Occupations Framework is now live. The framework de nes 28 occupations linked to vocational quali cations in the water industry and details alternative titles, ANZSCO code, their core function, tasks, skills and knowledge. The framework was developed from the need for national consensus on common roles and provides a guide for their training in nationally endorsed quali cations Australian Capital Territory The debt of Government-owned ACTEW Corporation will exceed $2.2 billion after it grows by more than 20% in ve years, and the Opposition says the growth is unsustainable. Budget papers show it will push total borrowings against the ACT Government's name to more than $4.5 billion by 2018. Much of this is due to the water and sewage entity's borrowings, which will increase by more than $400 million in this nancial year and across the Territory Budget's forward estimates. New South Wales Minister for Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, said the NSW Government is examining two reports it has received from the independent NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane. Mr Roberts said the rst report, Cumulative Impacts on Ground and Surface Water in the Sydney Water Catchment, analysed the impacts of activities in the Sydney Water Catchment, in particular the impact of long-wall mining and coal seam gas activities. Underground dams offer a promising way to make Australia's number one food bowl, the Murray-Darling Basin, more resilient against droughts, a leading water scientist says. Professor Tony Jakeman of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training and the Australian National University, says his group's research in the Namoi River region of NSW shows there is good potential to store water underground during times of ood, for use in drought periods. Shadow Minister for the Environment, Luke Foley, said the Labor Opposition has called on the Baird Liberal Government to abandon its scheme to abolish the Sydney Catchment Authority, following the NSW Chief Scientist's call for an increased focus on protecting Sydney's drinking water. The NSW Government has announced a range of new measures that will strengthen the state's environment watchdog, including a proposed tenfold increase in penalties for companies that breach environment protection licenses. Environment Minister Rob Stokes said the changes will provide the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) with the toughest regulatory powers in Australia, which can be used against industries that pose the greatest risk to communities. The NSW Government has axed the position of Water Commissioner in a restructure that has irrigators unimpressed. David Harriss spent ve years as water commissioner and over 25 years with the state's water department. Richard Stott, chairman of NSW Irrigators Council, says the restructure was badly timed. "I think that with a new minister coming in and a commissioner that's been there for a few years, you would have a period where you would need both of them there to understand how the Basin Plan is going to be implemented and the dif culties we've got going forward," he said. Jeremy Buckingham, Greens NSW spokesperson, agrees. "With an El Nino on the cards, this is the worst time to re-politicise water decisions and sack someone like David Harriss who has enormous experience and knowledge in this area," he said.
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