Dalton drafts bill for NSW politicians to disclose water entitlements

By Rodney Woods

NSW Member for Murray Helen Dalton has drafted a bill to make it compulsory for NSW politicians to disclose their water entitlements.

The bill was drafted after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian answered Mrs Dalton's question on water licences in parliament on November 14, saying state parliamentarians should be trusted to “proactively” disclose their water ownership on their own accord.

“Given the NSW water crisis and current investigations into water trading and water corruption, will the premier explain why state members of parliament do not have to declare their water ownership?,” Mrs Dalton said.

“Why has her government, in its nine years in power, not introduced a bill to force all state members of parliament to declare their water ownership on their pecuniary interest declaration form?”

Currently, state parliamentarians are required to disclose property, income, jobs and share holdings; but there is nothing on water ownership.

“I say to the Member for Murray that if she is personally concerned about any interests she, or any other member, might hold in relation to water licences, or if she, or anybody else, is concerned about what they own in relation to water assets they should disclose them proactively and put them on their registers,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Mrs Dalton said this answer was ridiculous.

“Let’s just trust politicians to own up, is what she effectively said,” Mrs Dalton said.

“The water market at the moment is an unregulated disgrace.

“We know there are people who have an interest in keeping water scarce and prices high.

“They are making millions off the misery of drought-stricken farmers."

Mrs Dalton said a simple legal change would fix the issue.

“The Constitution (Disclosures by Members) Regulation 1983 just needs a simple amendment so that water entitlements are included among the pecuniary interests that must be disclosed by state MPs,” she said.

“I’ve drafted a bill that does just that.

“My bill would also provide for a proper online water register, that would allow the public to look up the water entitlements of all individuals, investors, foreign companies, government departments — anyone who owns our precious river water.”