Court does not challenge "broader water allocation policy"


Sir – I accept the decision made [yesterday] by the Supreme Court that clarifies the interpretation of s30 of the Water Act in relation to the process that I or any other Minister must adhere to in consideration of a review of the Water Controller’s decision.
I have requested the Department of Land Resource Management to provide me with a comprehensive briefing on the implications of the Court’s decision.
However at this time, I am able to state that the Court’s decision relates to the operation of only one section of the Water Act.
The decision does not call into legal question the broader operation of the Act, the means in which water licences are granted under the Water Act or the application of government policy in respect to water resources via the Water Act.
It is important to reassure the 18 licensees that they have some certainty in this process. The Court’s decision today simply places the licensees back into the position they were in prior to my review which was previously undertaken.
I will now need to reconsider and review the decisions of the Water Controller again in accordance with the Court’s ruling.
The Court’s decision only relates to the process which I must undertake, it did not and does not relate to consideration of broader issues associated with water allocation policy.
This decision relates solely to an administrative process used by the Minister in reviewing the decision of the Water Controller after the issue of a water extraction licence.
Since the inception of the Act in 1992, this same process has been consistently applied by all Ministers with responsibility under this section of the Water Act. This is the first time this particular process has been the subject of a judicial review.
Willem Westra van Holthe (pictured)
Minister for Land Resource Management


  1. The Water Act legislation needs to be reviewed and strengthened so as to limit the ways in which precious potable water is used throughout the environment.
    Congratulations to the EDO in Darwin for a successful prosecution of the incumbent Minister that has seen the process reversed.
    It is hoped said Minister will review the decisions and decide differently. He should be the one to introduce stronger legislation into the NT Parliament.

  2. Even with the cut in funding the EDO in Darwin will resist the minister’s bloody minded attitude of “we have a mandate to rule”. That mandate, real or imagined, is quickly running out and so is your time as the Member for Katherine.

  3. Ever the “Artful Dodger” the Member for Katherine claims it is only a minor setback in the process and now he just needs to find a way around it to achieve his goal.
    No mention of the ruling being a safeguard to prevent fracking contamination of the Tindal Aquifier.


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