The Minerals Council of Australia appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Productivity Commission’s (PC) draft report on national water reform.
Of specific interest to the MCA is PC Draft report section 3.3 – ‘incorporating extractive industries into entitlement and planning arrangements’ and the associated recommendation 3.1b:
State and territory governments should ensure that water entitlement and planning arrangements explicitly incorporate extractive industries, such as by ensuring entitlements for extractive industries are issued under the same framework that applies to other consumptive users unless there is a compelling reason otherwise.
The MCA supports the principles contained within the Intergovernmental Agreement on the National Water Initiative 2004 (NWI). The MCA agrees that mining industry water use should be considered within water resource planning and entitlement frameworks where possible. However to enable this, water access regimes must recognise and account for the specific characteristics of extractive industry water use and the areas in which mining occurs. Furthermore, other reforms are needed to address potential barriers to industry water access. This context has not been well reflected in section 3.3 or the above recommendation. Accordingly, the MCA recommends these important aspects be incorporated into the final report and addressed in the recommendation.