The Territory Labor Government has announced the next stage of its plan to deliver water security for all Territorians.
A re-elected Labor Government will develop a long-term, comprehensive sustainable water strategy for 1) Water for drinking, 2) Water for growing and 3) Water for making.
The strategy will be guided by the following principles:
- Water security for people, families and communities comes first
- Science and sustainability must guide all decisions
- Public resources must maximise the public good – optimise social, cultural, environmental and economic outcomes
- Using water efficiently through supply-side management and demand-side management
- Sustainable industry plans and securing local jobs – ensuring industries in the Territory - including emerging industries - have long-term water security to secure permanent local jobs
- Preparing for the future – Planning for changes in water availability (e.g. climate change) and changes in water demand moving forward
- Trust – the community must have faith in the fairness and transparency of water allocation and trading
The strategy will be informed by extensive community consultation and include:
- Comprehensive demand and supply-side management strategy, assessing all policy options, taking into account best practice and lessons from other jurisdictions;
- Research and data – knowledge building and integration of innovative technological advancements and novel approaches to manage water
- Engagement and partnership with Land Councils and Aboriginal Territorians
- Plans to maximise investment and action from the Commonwealth
- Integration across relevant agencies and policy areas (e.g. remote communities; energy; health; infrastructure; tourism)
- Planning for the impacts of climate change, including water for bushfires, water security in times of drought and consideration of changes in the hydrological cycle
- Analysis of future demand from all sectors, including potential new sectors such as renewable hydrogen.
This long term strategy will build on the extensive progress made by the Labor Government over the last four years including:
- Extensive reforms to the Water Act 1992 to protect our water now and into the future
- Ongoing investment in Indigenous Essential Services to support growing remote communities
- Implementation of Water Allocation Plans and the reinstatement of the Aboriginal Water Reserves Policy to protect our water and enable development
- Development of smart water systems to efficiently manage our water, including the Water Data Portal to track water level and rainfall
- Re-establishment of Water Advisory Committees to ensure water management decisions meet community expectations
- Developing a detailed business case for the Darwin Region Water Supply to inform a whole-of-government water supply strategy for the Darwin region to meet emerging urban and agricultural growth, as well as immediate industrial demand
- Working with the Commonwealth to invest in water infrastructure
- Introducing the water-saving Weather Web program, which aims to save 120 million litres of water annually using information from rooftop weather stations.
Quotes from the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Eva Lawler:
“Water is a precious resource and we need to manage it responsibly to ensure its sustainability.
“Labor understands that water is crucial for social, cultural, environmental and economic life and that’s why we are delivering plans that make sure Territorians continue to have water for drinking, for growing, and for making valuable products.
“This Territory Labor Government has made great progress in fixing up the disgraceful mess that Terry Mills and the CLP left after their term in Government.
“Terry Mills and the CLP over allocated our water reserves, gave large allocations to CLP mates who later sold them for millions of dollars, and scrapped Indigenous water reserves – you simply can’t trust them to do the right thing with our water.
“Only Labor has the policies and the record to ensure water security for all Territorians into the future.”