NSW Member for Murray Helen Dalton is worried that her water registry bill will be thrown out as COVID-19 forces a shutdown of the state's parliament until September.
Mrs Dalton said under normal circumstances, bills introduced to parliament expire after six months, meaning her bill — which was introduced into parliament in February and would force NSW politicians to declare their water interests — could be thrown out.
“The government stalled, stalled and stalled some more to stop the bill being debated and voted on,” she said.
“They then suspended parliament until September, meaning my bill will expire and get thrown out.
“Why do bills expire while parliament’s not sitting? That isn’t fair at all.”
In response, a NSW Government spokesperson said the six-month expiration date started when a politician first gives notice of a bill, which was October 2019 in this case, and Mrs Dalton had every right to reintroduce the bill when parliament resumes.
“The Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly state that bills not completed in six months from when notice was given shall lapse,” the spokesperson said.
“Mrs Dalton’s bill is due to lapse on April 24, 2020. If she wishes to, Mrs Dalton can reintroduce her bill on a future sitting day.”
This setback comes after a similar bill, modelled off Mrs Dalton’s bill, already passed in Victoria, despite it being introduced after the NSW bill.
The Victorian bill was presented by fellow Shooters, Fishers and Farmers member and Member for Eastern Victoria Jeff Bourman, who called on all Victorian state and federal parliamentarians to declare their interest in water shares including, but not limited to, the Murray-Darling Basin.
‘‘I am very pleased to see the Victorian parliament has endorsed the common sense motion that politicians should have to declare their water interests,’’ Mrs Dalton said.
‘‘It’s a no brainer. I’m glad my push for transparency is being embraced by other states, if not NSW.
‘‘Now, Victorian politicians can no longer play dumb on water ownership.
“The parliament has endorsed the idea that they must declare it, so if we find out they secretly have water, they’ll be in big trouble.”
Mrs Dalton said the difference between Victoria and NSW in this situation was the ‘‘number of National Party MPs’’.
‘‘In the Victorian upper house, where the motion was passed, there is only one National Party MP, and she was absent when the vote took place.
‘‘However, NSW parliament has 19 National Party MPs.
“They are desperate to protect their colleagues and corporate donors by keeping water ownership secret.
‘‘It’s plain common sense that politicians should have to declare their water ownership.
“They are making decisions on the supply, price and profitability of water.
“If they own it, the public have a right to know about it.’’