Environmental Law Australia

Water management lecture 2015

This lecture examines water management, fisheries and cultural heritage laws in Queensland, Australia.

A central theme developed in the lecture is that environmental regulation is very hard for long-term and highly complex environmental problems.

A large part of the lecture is devoted to examining a case study of the Paradise Dam, which was built on the Burnett River in Queensland in 2003-2005. The dam was the subject of extended litigation in the Federal Court of Australia examined in a separate case study.

A handout referred to in the lecture summarising water management laws in Queensland is available here.

In summary, the take-home points from the lecture are:

  1. Water management is difficult and complex. It is difficult both technically, due to the highly variable flows of Australian rivers, and politically.
  2. Environmental regulation is very hard for long-term and highly complex environmental problems.
  3. Requirements for monitoring can be important components of approvals but are worthless if the results are ignored.
  4. Important controls on water management, fisheries and cultural heritage protection are integrated into the IDAS system.
  5. Indigenous cultural heritage and native title are important to recognise and respect.
  6. Native title holders are not free to ignore general laws (e.g. for nature conservation) but there are significant difficulties for regulating traditional hunting of threatened species.