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ACT v Queanbeyan – Water War -The Death Match

By PantsMan - 8 April 2009 7

Anyone noticed the Federal Court action between the ACT and Queanbeyan that’s on today?  It seems like they were in court in December fighting over access to documents

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2008/1983.html

Of course, the Canberra times and the rest of the ACT media pack could not actually report on this, because there has not been a press release for them to copy straight from, so they would have to actually do some research or otherwise know what was happening in the ACT.

What’s Your opinion?


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7 Responses to
ACT v Queanbeyan – Water War -The Death Match
pug206gti 7:37 pm 08 Apr 09

Not a terribly interesting judgment – a motion on discovery! Woo! Unless you’re a law nerd and into the ins and outs of what is discoverable…

monomania 7:01 pm 08 Apr 09

Still very interesting because it is costing ACT water consumers $30 million a year and several million for those in Queanbeyan.

And it is a rip off.

winning star 6:10 pm 08 Apr 09

Yes I saw this one in the court lists.

I also know the background – because it’s been in the local media for years.

jackal 5:32 pm 08 Apr 09

As another poster has pointed out, the following article appeared on page 2 of today’s Canberra Times. Perhaps Pantsman, you should actually read the newspaper before making uninformed comments. It is not the first story that has appeared on this stoush. You may have missed the stories, perhaps you didn’t get google alerts about them.

Decision on water charge reserved
Sally Pryor Court Reporter
The future of Actew Corporation’s controversial water abstraction charge may be in doubt if a legal challenge against its validity is successful.
The Queanbeyan City Council launched an action in the Federal Court earlier this year against the ACT Government and Actew, claiming the abstraction is a tax, and therefore unconstitutional.Questions about the legality of the controversial abstraction charge stretch back to 1999, when it was first implemented at a rate of 10c for every 1000 litres for urban users.
It has since increased several times, up to 55c in June 2006, which the council claims is an indication of revenue raising on the part of the Government, although the charges have been levied amid an increasingly severe drought and the need to encourage less water use.
During the hearing, which began in February and ran for six days in total, counsel for Queanbeyan Peter Hanks, QC, argued that the abstraction charge constituted an excise, and was therefore in breach of section 90 of the Constitution.
Section 90 gives exclusive power to the Commonwealth to impose customs and excises.
But John Griffiths, SC, acting for the territory, said that while the fee might well be characterised as revenue raising, it also reflected the value of the resource, as well as being a way of managing demand.He said charging the abstraction fee was one of the tough decisions that the ACT Government had to make to discourage excessive water use as the resource became scarcer.
He also pointed out that the territory had exclusive rights over the water and could charge what it wanted to provide it to consumers, unconstrained by section 90 of the Constitution.
Under its contract, Actew is limited to taking the water for the provision of urban water supply.Although the council continues to receive the payments from consumers, it has been withholding them from Actew since July 2007, and is quarantining the funds in the event that the challenge is successful and the money has to be returned.
A decision in favour of the council could mean the ACT would have to repay all the levies paid by Queanbeyan since 1999, and could also have implications for ACT residents.
The hearing wrapped up yesterday, with Justice Robert Buchanan reserving his decision for a later date.

FolkFestival 2:04 pm 08 Apr 09

It’s a cross-border tax, which the constitution forbids.

AG Canberra 1:02 pm 08 Apr 09

Oh – and it was in the Crimes today…..

AG Canberra 12:24 pm 08 Apr 09

This might have something to do with QBN taking ACTEW to court over the water abstraction charge. Apparently they haven’t paid it since 2007 – and reckon it’s unconstitutional in that is a tax – and that only the Commonwealth can levy taxes.

This might mean refunds to ACT residents if it gets up….

The ACT has argued that it was to pay for “abstracting” the water from the environment…then they argued it was to maintain the catchemnt….then they actually came clean and agreed it was just a way to push up the price to stop us from using as much….In reality it’s just a way of them getting direct money for water without letting ACTEW from getting their hands on it first.

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