The NT Government is in the process of legislating new water laws.
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Eva Lawler introduced the Water Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 in the Legislative Assembly to bring access to, and use of, water by the mining and petroleum industries into line with all other industries operating in the Northern Territory.
This fulfils a Government election promise.
This Government recognises the vital contribution that the mining and energy sectors make to the Northern Territory economy and the importance of ensuring that there is strong public confidence in these industries. However, we also need to get the balance right to ensure our water resources are sustainable into the future.
Currently mining and petroleum industries do not need to apply for water licenses.
Under the proposed new amendments, that exclusion will be removed.
In addition, offences and penalties under the Act will be updated to introduce an infringement notice scheme that will enable breaches to be enforced independently of the courts.
The Water Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 also seeks to increase current financial penalties for breaches of the Water Act.
Minister Lawler said: “Territorians want and deserve a Government they can trust and these changes to the Water Act fulfils a key election commitment of the Government.
“Water is a precious resource and we need to manage it responsibly to ensure its sustainability.
“We live in a diversified economy and there is significant competition for the use of water, and water use by mining and petroleum activities need to be regulated through the Water Act.
“The updating of compliance offences, combined with increased financial penalties, will ensure that our valuable water resources are more highly valued by all users going forward.
“We want the penalties under the Act to provide an adequate deterrence against offending.”