On Tuesday 11 June in Question Time, Michael asked the Qld Environment Minister whether she'd guarantee recent advice from 7 of the country's top groundwater experts, calling Adani’s groundwater plans “severely flawed”, would be properly considered and reflected in her department's decision. The Minister couldn't provide a real answer to that question.
Mr BERKMAN: My question is directed to the Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef. Last week the minister’s department was handed advice from seven of Australia’s leading groundwater experts, including one of the top advisers to Queensland’s Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment. I now table this advice which called Adani’s groundwater plan severely flawed and warned that it is ‘unsuitable and unlikely’ to protect the ancient sacred Doongmabulla Springs from extinction.
Tabled paper: Document, dated 30 May 2019, titled ‘Position Paper by Concerned Scientists, Deficiencies in the scientific assessment of the Carmichael Mine impacts to the Doongmabulla Springs’.
Will the minister guarantee that this advice will be properly considered and reflected in Thursday’s decision on Adani’s groundwater management plan?
Mr SPEAKER: Before asking the minister to answer the question, member for Maiwar, that is a very lengthy preamble. I will allow the question, but I am giving you fair warning for your next opportunity.
Ms ENOCH: I thank the member for the question. I want to be very clear though that the role of the regulator—
Opposition members interjected.
Ms ENOCH: I also thank the member for a question that was not just a yes or no question. That is very useful and I appreciate that. For the member’s benefit, the role of the regulator under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 is absolutely free from political interference. The role of the regulator will be to consider all relevant information and it has been collecting that information from various sources, as I understand it, including the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, which also provided information to the then federal minister for environment.
There has been some further work done with regard to Adani’s responsibilities under its environmental authorities, in particular with regard to groundwater, and of course the regulator will consider all of the relevant information before making its decision which is an independent decision from political interference. It will make that decision and it will make that decision whether to approve the current management plan or not on 31 May, as has been outlined in the time lines set by the Coordinator-General. In terms of that information, I know that the regulator has been looking at all available information to be able to make its decision.