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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2873..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

investment without the necessary environmental and social studies and without addressing the simple question of whether the dam will work. This is the approach the ACT government has taken to this important issue.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, do those options mentioned have any scientific bases? Would immediately taking the option of a dam be irresponsible and precipitous?

MR STANHOPE: It would be reckless in the extreme to take a punt and pick an option, as if to stick a pin in a list of racehorses, and think that would do. To design a list of options for a water source and then pick one out of a hat, as the Liberal Party has done would be reckless in the extreme. In the context of climate change, the change in rainfall patterns and the experience we have had in the last couple of years with water sources, to simply stump up-particularly making a cheap political point of being perceived to be decisive and actually have a policy on something-and say, "Let's build a dam at Naas, and let's not worry about whether it will ever fill," would be reckless in the extreme.

"Let's not worry about whether climate change is relevant to where one places a dam. Let's not worry about the fact that a range of environmental can be overcome by looking at another option. Let's not worry about bequeathing to a generation a dam that won't fulfil the water supply needs of the future community. Let's not worry about whether it will work. Let's repeat history. Let's not take the time to consider whether, if we promise to spend, say, $12 million on a football stadium upgrade, we can deliver it for $12 million. Let's adopt the same attitude we adopted then. Let's just make the commitment on a wing and a prayer." Do members opposite remember when they said, "We promise to rebuild the football stadium; it will only cost you $12 million"-and five years later the community pays $84 million and runs the facility at a deficit forever and a day. Let's continue to repeat the mistakes of the past!

That is gung-ho and reckless with absolutely no commitment to process or the issues that need to be looked at in making a serious decision about major infrastructure development-namely, the expenditure of at least $150 million of taxpayers' funds on a facility that is designed to secure the needs of the community in the future. "Let's just take a punt. Let's just hope. Let's just make decisions on the basis of a wing and a prayer. Let's just assume that it will continue to rain, that we won't have climate change and that rain will fall in the Naas valley to the extent of filling the dam."

It is relevant, in terms of what we see, that the Bendora dam is currently at 85 per cent capacity on the basis that rain is falling within the Bendora catchment. Bendora received 40 millimetres of rain two weeks ago; Googong received two. It is because of the nature of those rainfall patterns within the region that we are undertaking detailed, and quite complex and scientific, analyses.

Actew will have the first cut of a draft report on all those scientific, environmental and other aspects of the three options by December this year and will have a final report early in the New Year. It is an appropriate response to this difficult and serious issue. Let's do it seriously; let's apply some process; let's not reduce decision-making on a major piece of infrastructure to a political stunt.


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