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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 25 November 2021) . . Page.. 3698 ..

I know for a fact that the Yerrabi community sincerely values precious spaces like the grasslands because I have seen firsthand the willingness of Canberrans to both voluntarily and privately participate in the conservation of these precious gems, whether it be through groups like Friends of Grasslands or in an individual capacity. The Franklin Nature Reserve is priceless because of its unique native ecosystem. But it is also priceless because of the high value that people place on it. It is absolutely right that this government has, through this budget initiative, shown the people of Yerrabi that it will indeed continue to maintain these invaluable spaces.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.59): Ms Lawder is at an appointment and is unable to be in the Assembly this morning but has asked me to read some comments to the Assembly for her, relating to water quality. Water quality does not just fall under any of my shadow portfolio responsibilities. However my interest in them—and by “my”, I mean Ms Lawder’s interest in the matter—is no secret. As a local member for Tuggeranong, the issue of water quality matters to many of my constituents, particularly in relation to the poor quality we often see at Lake Tuggeranong.

Despite its best efforts, this government has not achieved much when it comes to improving the water quality in our lakes and waterways. Since its introduction, the Healthy Waterways project has delivered 20 projects that the government said would improve Canberra water quality and also flow downstream into the Murrumbidgee River and the Murray-Darling Basin. The government has not produced any evidence to demonstrate that water quality has in fact improved, and algal blooms are just as prevalent. Whilst I am glad to see funding being allocated to improve water quality, it appears that the government is throwing more money at this problem without adequately addressing the issues identified in the first 20 projects.

Another key issue for water quality in Canberra is that the government has poor control over water quality from urban developments, resulting in massive sediment movement from the Molonglo Valley subdivisions into the Molonglo River. The government also does not have any continuous water quality monitoring along the Molonglo River which would allow the source of the magnitude of pollution events to be determined. Due to poor and planning and control, the creeks that connect the urban areas of the Molonglo River are scouring out, adding to the problem, and are now much more costly to mitigate.

I note that the government relies heavily on a conceptual water quality model. MUSIC is the term. This model is not applicable to real-world conditions and current climate and, therefore, water quality is at risk of not improving to any noticeable extent.

Further, the responses my office has received to questions on notice have been vague, unclear and sometimes inaccurate. For instance, the statement that stormwater connects to upper Stranger Pond and then Tuggeranong weir is simply incorrect. Whilst I appreciate the government’s efforts in this area, I am starting to believe that these efforts may be motivated by the government wanting to appear to be doing something in this space, as opposed to actually improving water quality in Canberra.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

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