On 18 October 2017, the Senate referred the following matters related to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report by 27 March 2018:
The adequacy of the regulatory framework governing water use by the extractive industry, with particular reference to:
- the social, economic and environmental impacts of extractive projects’ take and use of water;
- existing safeguards in place to prevent the damage, contamination or draining of Australia’s aquifers and water systems;
- any gaps in the regulatory framework which may lead to adverse social, economic or environmental outcomes, as a result of the take and use of water by extractive projects;
- any difference in the regulatory regime surrounding the extractive industry’s water use, and that of other industries;
- the effectiveness of the ‘water trigger’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 , and the value in expanding the ‘trigger’ to include other projects, such as shale and tight gas; and
- any other related matters.
The closing date for submissions is 15 December 2017.
On 13 February 2018, the Senate granted an extension of time to report until 27 June 2018.