Speak Up launches water register petition as Dalton amends bill for privacy
SFF Murray MP Helen Dalton has urged all NSW residents to sign a new online petition demanding the NSW Government create a public register listing all owners of the state’s water entitlements.
“In early August, the NSW Government voted down my bill to force politicians to declare their water interests; and to create an online water register,” Mrs Dalton said
“This means foreign corporations can continue to buy our water whilst keeping their ownership secret,”
“If you’re appalled by this, you can now have your say”.
Rural advocacy group Speak Up 4 Water launched the online petition on Thursday.
The petition was written by group chair Shelley Scoullar, a former Deniliquin rice farmer who left the irrigation sector amidst soaring water prices.
Previously, NSW Parliament only considered written petitions. But a recent policy change means NSW Parliament is obliged to debate and vote on any electronic petition garnering more than 20,000 signatures.
“This petition addresses the NSW Government’s main criticism of a public water register – that it violates the privacy of mum-and-dad farmers,” Mrs Dalton said
“It states that a public register should not reveal private contact details of farmers.”
“I don’t really think this amendment is necessary,” Mrs Dalton said
“A public water register was never going to include phone numbers and addresses,”
“You could argue the White Pages violate privacy more than a water register”
“But if the NSW Government is using privacy as their excuse, this new clause addresses this concern,”
“Now, if they vote against the bill, we will know they are protecting their donors and foreign corporates”.
Mrs Dalton said her amended bill also strengthens disclosure requirements for irrigation corporations, like Murrumbidgee Irrigation.
“At present, it’s easy for foreign companies to hide their water entitlements inside an irrigation corporation. They won’t be able to do so if my bill passes,”
“If I have the weight of 20,000 petition signatures behind a public water register, it will be difficult for the NSW Government to resist it.”
A petition link can be found here: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/la/Pages/ePetition-details.aspx?q=u5AsbL26zf2mnpK/x5Swuw==
A copy of the amendment can be found here: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/helendalton/pages/60/attachments/original/1598856514/Draft_amendment_on_privacy_and_irrigation_corporations.pdf?1598856514