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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 234..

MR SESELJA (continuing):

our progressive water pricing regime. A family that uses water for showering, bathing the kids, washing clothes and reasonable outdoor watering will quickly find itself paying higher per kilolitre rates. Even at times of severe water restrictions when many households have done little, if any, outdoor watering, many families find themselves paying higher rates, sometimes very early in a financial year.

Essentially, we are treating families with children who engage in reasonable use as water wasters and I do not accept this. Governments should manage our water resources in a way that allows families enough water at a reasonable price to meet their basic requirements. I do not believe that having a lawn for your kids to play on, or keeping trees alive, is extravagant, and nor should it be charged as such. This government have been extremely slow to respond to the drought, and Canberra families have paid the price through higher charges and dead gardens. Now that the government are finally waking up to the need to act, I call on them to ensure that families are not punished and treated as water wasters for simply meeting their basic water needs.

I also read Mr Stanhope's comments some time ago; I believe it was in the Sunday Times. He was commenting about his changing water use over time, his personal water use-how he moved from a big lawn years ago to a little lawn and now to no lawn. I think that is just a reasonable progression; as people's kids grow up that sort of thing happens. But I do not think it is any excuse for water policy and it says nothing to the families with children now who do want to have a lawn, who do want to have a backyard for their kids to play in that is not a dust bowl and who do not want to see their trees die. It is reasonable that families use a reasonable amount of water and I do not think we are treating families in that way.

Families are being bashed by this government on all sorts of fronts. We are seeing it in relation to water, in taking their parking spots away, in higher rates and charges, in closing their schools and in charging them to visit their sick relatives in hospital-just to name a few of the areas.

There are all sorts of areas where we need to change the way we do things; most people in the community acknowledge that. But we cannot do it in a way that punishes families, in particular, not for being extravagant but simply for just doing what we would expect families to do-for using the resources in a reasonable way to look after their families. So we need to look at this very closely. There is going to be more and more pressure in terms of charging, in particular for water, which will put pressure on families. I would caution the government against putting in place a regime that would excessively punish families simply for reasonable water use.

Emergency Services Agency

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.16): Mr Speaker, the minister for emergency services made an announcement at about a quarter to one today about the new structure for the Emergency Services Agency, and it is causing a huge amount of angst, particularly among the volunteers, who feel yet again that they have not been consulted, that they have been delivered on high by this government. It must be the third or fourth iteration of emergency services.

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