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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 1463..

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.26 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Budget—impact of drought

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, the ACT is in its fifth year of drought and so far during 2007 inflows are even lower than they were in 2006, which was a record low. Despite this, you have failed to make provision for the continued impact of the drought on ACT government finances. Why have you failed to budget for the continuation of the drought, given the drastic circumstances that we face?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. It is an important question and, of course, a very important issue for Canberra, not just in a future budgetary or economic sense but, indeed, in the context of the other potential impacts of the drought on the ACT.

As I indicated in the speech on the appropriation bill yesterday, the ACT government has taken the same attitude in its budget as the commonwealth took in its budget delivered recently by the federal Treasurer, Peter Costello. We have adopted exactly the same attitude and position in relation to the drought and the budget. Mr Costello, in addressing federal parliament in relation to his budget, made the point that the growth predictions included or incorporated within the federal budget presumed that the drought will break and that potential impacts of a continuation of the drought following the federal government's budgetary position had not been incorporated into that budget.

That does not deny, of course, that the federal government, as does this government, stands ready to provide whatever assistance may be sought or required in the event that the drought does not break and some of the aspects of a continuation of the drought that might impact on us would not be met, and would not be met and approached vigorously. In that context, the ACT government and Actew, in recent times and for quite a significant period of time now, have been working assiduously to address issues in relation to the possibility of moving to level 4 water restrictions.

Actew has consulted quite heavily and significantly with aspects of the different parts of the community, most notably the business community; the sporting community; and those organisations, institutions and businesses that depend on water for their existence, their survival and their effective operation. Indeed, the ACT government has been involved in similar considerations and similar consultations. Just this week I announced, in order to ensure that there was a cross-government approach to the potential impacts and implications of level 4 restrictions, the appointment of an interdepartmental committee, to be chaired by the chief executive of the Department of Territory and Municipal Services, to ensure that every one of the possible impacts are taken into account, whether it be in relation to business or sporting events and fields and capacity and opportunity, whether it be in relation to some of our

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