The Territory Labor Government is ensuring that water is reserved for future Aboriginal economic development and enterprise, through the passing of the Water Further Amendment Bill 2019 in Parliament yesterday supporting local jobs on country.
The legislationestablishes Aboriginal economic development as a new beneficial use category inthe Water Act 1992, paving the way for water in new allocation plans to beassigned to Aboriginal water reserves, capturing the Strategic Aboriginal WaterReserves Policy Framework.
These changes will alsoprovide positive incentives for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups to worktogether, and with other prospective partners through opportunities for watertrading, land development projects on country and shared equity arrangements indevelopment projects, with Aboriginal employment and economic developmentbenefits.
The StrategicAboriginal Water Reserves Policy was launched in October 2017 to ensure thatAboriginal people with rights and interests in land with access to water, have water reserved into the future, until they are ready to take or trade thatwater.
The StrategicAboriginal Water Reserves Policy Framework was the first of its kind to bedeveloped nationally and embodies progressive water policy reform, without anequivalent in other Australian jurisdictions.
As noted by theMinister for Environment and Natural Resources, Eva Lawler:
The Territory LaborGovernment promised to reinstate Strategic Aboriginal Water Reserves after theywere scrapped by the CLP because we saw the future opportunities that it couldcreate for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory and the jobs on countryit would support.
This is aboutproviding an opportunity for Aboriginal Territorians to access water resourcesin water allocation plan areas.