The NSW Government yesterday introduced legislation to strengthen disclosure requirements for water ownership and trades for all NSW Members of Parliament.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the Constitution Amendment (Water Accountability and Transparency) Bill 2020 will provide more certainty to Members of Parliament and improve public confidence in the pecuniary interests register.

“The community rightfully expects Members of Parliament to be diligent and fully transparent when disclosing their pecuniary interests, but there is currently a lack of clarity around how valuable water assets should be recorded,” Mrs Pavey said. 

“The proposed legislation will require all Members to record water ownership and share components as an asset, in the same way they must declare business or real estate interests – this includes a delivery right within an irrigation corporation.

“The legislation will also require any water trades to be declared within 14 days, rather than the current six months, along with any money earned and the net impact on remaining water holdings.”

The inclusion of water trades and tightening timeframes on reporting them is a significant change.

“Water asset ownership and how they’re traded is something we are taking very seriously to improve confidence among our communities and is also another step in improving transparency within the sector,” Mrs Pavey said. 

“The NSW Government is committed to completing its water reform agenda, including strengthening public registers for water ownership and trading.

“Any further changes to registers involving private citizens must be done in a way that promotes transparency whilst protecting the privacy of our farmers.”