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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 390..


MR KAINE: The minister answered the first question which I asked on 27 November. He provided an answer on 5 December, but on 7 December I asked two more questions. The one I just outlined was my supplementary question, and I gave the minister's answer. He has not since responded. I ask him again whether he has now found out who took the decision. May we now be informed of the answer to that question? Do not dissemble.

MR SMYTH: Mr Kaine keeps good track of answers, and I am sure that his recollection therefore is correct. If I have not answered the question, I will have to get the answer and get back to him.

Discharge from Belconnen landfill

MR CORBELL: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services. Minister, yesterday in an answer to a question about the discharge of water from the ponds at the Belconnen landfill you stated that the discharge of stormwater into the river occurred four to six times a year. However, a letter issued by the manager of ACT Waste in the Department of Urban Services in September 1994 to a resident downstream from the Belconnen landfill includes the following statement about the reuse of stormwater at the landfill:

The contract has been issued for the installation of a stormwater tank for dust suppression on the site. The source of the stormwater is our sedimentation ponds and this ensures water levels in ponds will be kept low for most of the year. For an average year, I now expect that there will be no discharge of water from the Belconnen Landfill.

Minister, will you explain why the stormwater from the Belconnen landfill has been discharged into the Murrumbidgee River four to six times per year, in clear contradiction of the assurances given by the department in 1994?

MR SMYTH: I cannot possibly be aware of an assurance given in 1994 under a Labor government. If something has changed for that to occur, I am not aware. It is an interesting question. The retention ponds are cleared in the event of a major storm. Last night we had a major storm. The reason for emptying the ponds was borne out last night. If the ponds were full and we had a large dump of water as we had last night, the overflow would simply flood straight into the river. We do not want that to happen. That is why the ponds are periodically emptied.

I will have to find out why the manager of ACT Waste in 1994 said something different to what Environment ACT says in 2001. There is a gap of seven years. Things change across a period of time. I will ask Mr Corbell for a copy of the letter. I am happy to get an explanation from the department of why they have changed the practice. What happened last night is a perfect example of why the ponds, if they have water in them or are full, should be emptied. It is so that we protect the environment the best we can.

MR CORBELL: My supplementary question is: were any downstream users of the drainage creek into the Murrumbidgee River, particularly those who use the river water for domestic and stock watering, advised in advance of the discharge, and does the department have mechanisms in place to advise people?


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