Table 20.1. Synopsis of the purpose and application of nine legislative instruments (Acts) underpinning Queensland’s regulatory frameworks in the Lake Eyre Basin, affecting environmental protection, natural resource management and custodianship of its rivers and groundwater systems. Areas Legislative instrument Description Status and relevance to the Lake Eyre Basin rivers Environmental protection Water Act 2000 Qld Water Legislation Amendment Act 2016 (Qld) This regulatory framework provides for the allocation and management of Queensland’s water resources for consumptive purposes, with provisions for the management of environmental flows. However, the 2012–15 Liberal National Government’s Water Reform and Other Legislative Amendment Bill 2014 changed the Water Act’s purpose to ‘providing for the responsible and productive management, allocation and use of water, and balances social, economic and environmental values for the benefit of Queenslanders’. The principles of ecologically sustainable development were also removed from the legislation. The proclamation of a new Water Act was put on hold by the new Australian Labor Government in 2015. The Water Legislation Amendment Act 2016 was implemented by the Labor Government (2015–present) election pledge to reinstate the principles of ecologically sustainable development to the purpose of the Water Act 2000. This is the most important and powerful legislation for managing water resources in Queensland. It regulates the take of water from rivers and groundwater ecosystems, including effects on overland flows and trading of water entitlements. It has provided strong protection for natural flows of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers. The principles of ecologically sustainable development are now able to be applied to the management of the surface and groundwater resources of the Lake Eyre Basin. Wild Rivers Act 2005 (Qld) This Act provided protection for the natural intact values of rivers. It was also the first piece of legislation to place additional controls over resources industries (e.g. mining). It could not be overridden by the Queensland Coordinator- General, invoking the powers of the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 for ‘coordinated projects’ or projects of State significance. In 2010, the Wild Rivers Act was amended to include the preservation of the natural values of Lake Eyre Basin rivers in Queensland. In 2013, the Liberal National Government (2012–15) repealed the Wild Rivers Act and the Wild Rivers declarations for Cooper Creek and the Georgina and Diamantina Rivers were revoked in the passage of the State Development and Infrastructure Planning (Red Tape Reduction) Act on 5 August 2014. Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 198
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