Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 216 A range of relevant legislative enactments, policy documents and significant community responses were pivotal for the management of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers (Table 21.1), including the 1994–95 proposal to list for World Heritage status (see Chapter 7) a proposal to grow cotton in the Channel Country that triggered strong community opposition (see Chapter 17) growing recognition of Indigenous interests and rights in land and water (see Chapter 8) protection of environmental water through new legislation in 2000 and 2005 and specific protection of floodplains and rivers of the Channel Country in 2011. There were key events relevant to environmental protection of the rivers in the Queensland part of the Lake Eyre Basin over more than two decades (Table 21.1). For many years water legislation in Queensland did not explicitly consider ecosystem needs (Grant and Papadakis 2004), until the state government responded to water policy reform by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Strong opposition during 1995–98 to a proposal for large-scale irrigation in the Cooper Creek area by cotton farmers (see Chapter 17), known as the Currareva Partnership, played a significant role in highlighting community concern regarding ecosystem protection and environmental flows (see Chapter 7). Realising the strength of the concern, the state government prohibited large-scale irrigation in the region when it finalised the Cooper Creek Water Management Plan in 2000 (see Chapter 17). The proponents filed an application in the Supreme Court for judicial review of the decision of the Minister for Natural Resources to make the Water Management Plan (Cooper Creek) 2000. The court dismissed the application for judicial review, as the decision under challenge was a legislative matter and did not fall within the scope of section 20, Judicial Review Act 1991 (Qld), the plan determined the law in a binding manner and was of general application (Currareva Partnership v Welford 2000). At a high level, the states of Queensland and South Australia, together with the Commonwealth Government, entered into a Heads of Agreement in 1997 to protect the national and international values of the Lake Eyre Basin. All three jurisdictions passed legislation in 2001 (Table 21.1 see Chapter 7), forming new collaborative institutions to manage transboundary decision-making in the Basin. While many laws apply to land, water and the natural environment, I focus on the two most important management regimes in Queensland relevant to the Western Rivers catchments: (1) the water planning regime under the Water Act 2000, and (2) the Wild Rivers declarations under the Wild Rivers Act 2005. Unless otherwise specified, my analysis of policy and law is current to 1 January 2017. Until 2000, the primary focus of Queensland’s water legislation was the development of the state’s water resources (Grant and Papadakis 2004). In response to the 1994 COAG agreement to a National Water Reform Framework (Council of Australian Governments 2004b), the Water Resources Act 1989 (Qld) was replaced by the Water Act 2000 (Qld), which changed the focus to how water was allocated and managed in the state. Since 2000, water resource plans provide for sustainable use, mainly through clearly defining the consumptive take of water, specifying water users’ entitlements, identifying the ecological assets in a catchment and their water needs to maintain them in a healthy state, and providing for the management of environmental flows. Water plans, formerly called Water Resource Plans, specify general and environmental outcomes. For example, the Cooper Creek Water Resource Plan 2011 (Queensland Department
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