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Water bill passed despite reef and farming concerns

CONTROVERSIAL new water laws were passed in Queensland parliament on Wednesday night after two days of debate.

Labor MP Jackie Trad dubbed the Water Reform Bill "shameful" and pointed to submissions stating the bill would harm the Great Barrier Reef.

In introducing the bill on Tuesday night, water minister Andrew Cripps said it would create "economic development opportunities" in regional and rural Queensland.

Mr Cripps said the bill expanded on existing statutory rights to take water for "low-risk activities" and would expand "make good" arrangements, which currently apply to the gas sector and coal industry.

"The bill delivers a number of key reforms while retaining certainty and security of entitlements and, most importantly, balancing economic, social and environmental outcomes," he said.

But Ms Trad said the bill encouraged "secret" agreements without hydrological analysis.

"In essence, this is a shameful bill. It is an utter disgrace. It recklessly and irresponsibly deregulates water management and allocations in Queensland and walks away from decades of assessment and approvals of development according to the principles of ecologically sustainable development," she said.

She said the bill would hurt the Great Barrier Reef, pointing to submissions from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

"This bill, for purely ideological reasons, removes the principles of ecologically sustainable development from the Water Act in direct contradiction to this government's pledge to UNESCO in their strategic assessment program report," she said.

Lockyer MP and agriculture committee chairman Ian Rickuss said the bill would not harm the reef and opposing it would instead hurt farmers.

- APN NEWSDESK


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