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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . .

Page.. 565..


So from my family to yours, I wish all my colleagues here in this chamber and their families and the entire Canberra community a very happy new year, and, as is fitting for today on International Mother Language Day, in my mother tongue:

Ms Lee then spoke in Korean.

Cape Town—water shortage

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (6.48): I rise today to talk about one of the scariest bits of news of the past few weeks. I am sure that everyone has heard about this: the proposition that Cape Town is almost out of water. Cape Town is a city of four million people. It is what we all thought of as a reasonably advanced city. But in about 10 weeks it is expected that the city is going to basically turn off the water supply because they have run out. They are going to have 200 water collection points where people can collect water. It is fairly hard to imagine how this is going to work, how sanitation is going to work, how the elderly and infirm will have any chance of collecting their water, how people without cars will get water. I will not go into all the possible doomsday scenarios, because I think we can all imagine them.

Of course, we have all been imagining them to an extent over Australia this millennium after the drought of 2007. A lot of coastal cities in Australia responded by building desalination plants: Sydney did, but they have not used theirs; Perth did; Melbourne did. In the ACT, not having a convenient sea and realising that Lake Burley-Griffin is simply not big enough, we have expanded the Cotter Dam. So we have all been aware of this as an issue.

Part of the point I want to make is that this is a very big real and issue. I am going to quote from BOM, the Bureau of Meteorology. In its update issued this month, it says:

Global warming has already increased the risk of major disruptions to Pacific rainfall, according to our research published today in Nature Communications. The risk will continue to rise over coming decades, even if global warming during the 21st century is restricted to 2 C as agreed by the international community under the Paris Agreement.

In recent times, major disruptions have occurred in 1997-98, when severe drought struck Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands, and in 2010-11, when rainfall caused widespread flooding in eastern Australia and severe flooding in Samoa, and drought triggered a national emergency in Tuvalu.

I will not go on with all of that, but I will quote from the article under the heading, "The risk has already increased":

... is it possible that humans have already increased the risk of major disruption?

It seems that we have: the frequency of major rainfall disruptions in the climate models had already increased by around 30% relative to pre-industrial times prior to the year 2000.


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