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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3119..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

measures in place to achieve that. Other measures advocated by ACTCOSS and the con council included legislation requiring new developments and buildings to conform to high water conservation standards-it is very important to have water sensitive urban designs and I am still getting constant feedback from developers and people in the community that it is harder rather than easier to get support in planning processes to have innovative water sensitive design-greater investment in grey water and stormwater reuse and a program to ensure all public housing is retrofitted as a matter of priority-I have put up a number of ways we could do that, including innovative financing schemes-changes to the format of water bills to assist people in understanding their water usage; incentives and financial assistance to undertake water audits-and I have already talked about that at some length-rebate schemes on water efficient appliances; low interest loans for the purchase of expensive water efficient appliances-and I have just spoken about that-changes to current policies in relation to deemed use and flat rate usage applied to unmetered properties; and education to allow people to understand the need for environmental flows. I also challenge that concept, as I have already said.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (11.41): Everyone here certainly understands the fundamental importance of water to Canberra and in the operation of society. I think everybody understands why it is of paramount importance that we manage our vital water resources wisely and in a sustainable way if we are to sustain the economy and the environment and, indeed, our way of life. We certainly understand that. That is why, in 2002, the government embarked upon the ambitious task of developing "Think water, act water", of sustainable management of the territory's water resources, of a clear statement of policy and a comprehensive and responsible action plan to implement those policies. "Think water, act water" also contains information about each sub-catchment, including environmental flows, volumes of water currently licensed and the level of new allocations that we might expect to be needed over the coming decade. These are the requirements under the Water Resources Act 1998 of the water resources management plan.

The current water resources management plan came into effect in 1999. It was based on the data that was available at that time. We have now had the benefit of five years of additional data, providing us with more accurate and up-to-date information about flows and rivers and the demands on water resources, both now and into the future, on which to base our understanding and calculations of the management of our water resources.

By passing a disallowance in the new water resources management plan, the Assembly would be forcing us to keep in place a plan that is five years out of date. We would be required to keep it in place for goodness knows how much longer. Gone would be the opportunity to benefit from the more current and accurate data now available to us, which allows us to be more adaptive and accurate when making decisions about water resource management. Many months of intensive work, including considerable involvement of the community, extensive input from a range of experts, including from the Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at the ANU and the CSIRO, the Institute for Sustainable Futures, ACTEW and ACT government agencies, has culminated in a robust and comprehensive strategy.


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