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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2288..


Water contamination

MRS BURKE: My question, which is to the Treasurer, is also in regard to Actew. In the interview yesterday on 2CC, Mike Jeffreys also said to you, "Okay, so you're confident that the people in Canberra have been told as soon as humanly possible about this,"to which you responded, "Yes."Minister, how can that be true when the executive manager of water and regulatory affairs at Actew said that the minister responsible, you, and the health department would have been told late May, early June?

MR QUINLAN

: As above, I think.

Mrs Dunne

: Turbidity is not a health problem.

MR QUINLAN

: No.

Mrs Dunne

: Why would the health department have been told in late May?

MR SPEAKER

: Order, Mrs Dunne! Mrs Burke asked the question.

MR QUINLAN

: Because within the ACT health standards there is a standard of, I think, five things that, regardless of whether you do or do not think it is a health problem, Mrs Dunne, precludes the supply of water with a content above five things. I think that in recent times we have had a measurement of 20 things.

MRS BURKE

: Minister, is your idea of "as soon as humanly possible"three weeks after you were told?

MR QUINLAN

: I hope that we are not trying to make a scandal out of this one. Dear me!

Mr Stanhope

: When you're desperate.

MR QUINLAN

: These are desperate days. With virtually everything that has happened out there, Paul Perkins, until his recent retirement, was not shy of getting onto the media and telling us exactly what was going on, giving us his opinion on future water prices and the whole bit; so I think that the whole process has been fairly open. All we did this week was to make sure, given that we had got to a point, particularly with manganese and iron suspension in the water, that we come to terms with the fact that we may very well have to spend a large amount of money on a treatment works and there could well be extended water restrictions and probably we will be at level 3 during the forthcoming spring and summer, which we wanted people to know about. We just tried to tell everybody what is going on. For God's sake, if you want to turn this thing into some sort of scandal, I am bemused.

Mr Stanhope

: Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.


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