21 – Water governance in Queensland 215 Table 21.1. Chronology of significant legislation, policy documents, and community action events in the Lake Eyre Basin. Year Legislation, policy documents and community action 1989 Water Resources Act (Qld) enacted. 1994 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Water Reform Framework provided national policy support for ecologically sustainable development in water, including environmental allocations, and tradeable water entitlements. Proposal to list South Australian parts of the Lake Eyre Basin for World Heritage status. 1995 A consortium of cotton growers proposed to irrigate from Currareva on Cooper Creek in the Channel Country, requiring an average of 42 000 ML per year. The newly formed Cooper’s Creek Protection Group and the Barcoo Shire Council opposed this proposal. 1996 Locals and scientists held scientific workshop at Windorah other scientific conferences at Perth, Western Australia and Berri, South Australia recommend against irrigation. 1998 The Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group integrated partnership approach adopted, with two cross-border catchment committees in the Cooper Creek and Georgina–Diamantina catchment committees. Draft Water Management Plan for Cooper Creek proposed allocation of 22 500 ML per annum from the Thomson and Barcoo Rivers, allowing for irrigation. This was again opposed by sections of the local community. 2000 Cooper Creek Water Management Plan prohibited irrigation under 1989 Water Resources Act. This prohibition continued under a new Water Act 2000 (Qld). Litigation commenced by Currareva consortium against Queensland Government was dismissed: Currareva Partnership v Welford (2000). 2001 Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement Act 2001 passed and provided for Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum, Secretariat, the Scientific Assessment Panel, and the Community Advisory Committee. Biennial Aboriginal forums planned (see Chapter 7). 2004 National Water Initiative continued nationwide reform agenda. For the first time jurisdictions had to consider Indigenous interests in water planning, and environmental allocations were to receive similar security as consumptive entitlements. Water Resource Plan (Georgina-Diamantina) (2004) finalised (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2004). 2005 Queensland enacted Wild Rivers Act 2005 to provide preservation of natural features and ecological functions of rivers in natural or near natural condition. The enactment of this Act resulted from an election promise by the Beattie Labor Government (1998–2007) and has been controversial, disputed by some Aboriginal communities in the Cape York Peninsula. 2009– 2010 Queensland Government discussed wild river issues for Lake Eyre Basin in response to community interest. Stakeholder forum organised by local community. Consultation paper released 2010, and Lake Eyre Basin Wild Rivers Advisory Panel formed to provide stakeholder input to Minister and the Department. 2011 Six meetings of Wild Rivers Advisory Panel held in 2011. Widespread support for Wild River declarations in Cooper Creek and Georgina and Diamantina catchments. Tibooburra Declaration at the 4th LEB Aboriginal Forum attended by 40 Aboriginal participants, 35 non-Aboriginal invitees (scientists, historians, officers from government and non-government organisations) resoundingly supported Lake Eyre Basin Wild River declarations (see Chapter 8). Wild Rivers declarations for Cooper Creek and Georgina– Diamantina in December 2011 prohibited development of large-scale irrigation and open cut mining close to major creeks and rivers. Water Resource Plan (Cooper Creek) 2011 finalised (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2011). 2012 Liberal National Government (2012–15), under Premier Newman, elected with substantial majority. An election promise was to abolish the Wild Rivers Act 2005 for all of Queensland, while for the Queensland Lake Eyre Basin rivers systems (referred to as Western Rivers by the Newman Government), the intention was to develop an alternative management framework for better balance. 2014 Wild Rivers Act 2005 abolished.
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