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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1410..


Water—Cotter Dam

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, reflective of the continuing budget blow-outs of the enlarged Cotter Dam project, the annual capital recovery surcharge that Canberra households will have to pay has increased from $100 to $220 per household per year to enable Actew to recover the cost of the project. It is now clear that the cost will be at least $400 million, and you claimed yesterday that the net economic benefit of the dam is $200 million. Treasurer, with the dam now costing at least $400 million, or 10 per cent more than budget, and counting, will the capital recovery surcharge on Canberra households now be at least 10 per cent higher, and counting? If yes, when will you tell the Assembly how much extra Canberra households will have to pay?

MR BARR: We await further advice from Actew and the Bulk Water Alliance in relation to the completion of the dam following the most recent significant flood event. Mr Sullivan indicated yesterday in his press conference that that information would be some weeks away. I am pleased to advise the Assembly that the initial work in terms of assessing damage and removing logs and other debris in the construction zone has been efficient and effective, and they will continue that work. My expectation and the expectation of the Actew board is that they will be in a position to provide further advice in the near future.

Mr Sullivan also indicated yesterday that significant savings have been made in other projects that the Bulk Water Alliance are delivering in relation to the water security measures that the government has supported—for example, on the Murrumbidgee to Googong transfer and other work associated with water security projects. Significant savings, in the tens of millions of dollars, have been achieved in those projects. That certainly goes to offset some of the additional costs associated with the flood event and the significant rain that has occurred during the construction of the Cotter Dam.

In relation to future impacts, we will await advice from Actew. The board and the shareholders have indicated a very strong preference for those costs to be absorbed by Actew.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, a supplementary question.

MR SMYTH: Treasurer, for how long will Canberra households have to pay the annual capital recovery surcharge for the enlarged Cotter Dam?

MR BARR: If Mr Smyth had listened to my previous answer he would be aware that we are currently awaiting further information from Actew and the Bulk Water Alliance partners. I should have also mentioned in my previous answer that of course the risks associated with the project are indeed shared—so Actew will not bear the full cost of the additional expense that goes with completing the dam as a result of the recent flood event; the Bulk Water Alliance partners also share in that risk—and that there are a significant number of insurance matters that will need to be resolved. Equally there are some other tax and research concessions that Actew and the Bulk Water Alliance will pursue.


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