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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 4423..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

recognise that this is not a melodrama, that there are no moustachioed bad guys, and the answer to the undoubted environmental issues that face us lies not in the demonisation of the private sector but in the recognition that we all share the same little blue planet, that none of us has an interest in turning it into a wasteland, and that we can only fix it by working together.

Yesterday in this place there was a degree of banter-I hesitate to call it good-natured-from the government. The government said to us that it supposed that we-members of the opposition-were holding it responsible for the drought. I think it is worth having a little foray into that issue. In the past I have spoken at length about the acts of God excuses that are used by this government for things like bushfires and the lack of provision for water security in the wholly predictable droughts that this region faces from time to time. The Liberal Party has put forward a solution to that problem but the government has not.

It is quite possible that government responsibility in relation to the weather goes beyond making prudent provision for its variations. It goes beyond the obvious, that is, warning the population when meteorological phenomena such as lightening strikes and their predictable sequelae, that is, bushfires, are about to impact on them in the absence of appropriate intervention. When we have bushfires such as that they radically impact on our lives because, after all, we are mere mortals.

We must take account of what can be done and we must not throw up our hands in despair. This week I was privileged to attend a briefing on some of the scientific evidence relating to the droughts. Many members would know that droughts are simply not acts of God. They occur as a result of a number of factors. I and other members have been told that in recent years the southeast area of Australia has had about the same amount of cloud, but that cloud does not yield rain. It is not because there is a lack of water; it is because of the way in which the clouds are forming. Even with my basic understanding of meteorology and physics I can see the logic of that.

The size of the cloud particles that are forming over the southeast of Australia is one of the key factors likely to determine whether or not it will rain. Cloud particle size is determined as a result of pollution, sulphur compounds, industrial and urban pollution and forest fires. It has become increasingly apparent in South America and in the archipelagos to our north that forest clearing and burning has had an impact on the weather. That has resulted in reduced rainfall and the catastrophic forest fires that we have seen increasingly over the past few years.

I am not speculating about the long-term effects of climate change; I am talking about what happens to the pollution that is created that does not make it into the upper atmosphere-the pollution that hangs around in the clouds. Evidence that has been presented to me, to this government and to other governments shows that the amount of particles in the clouds has a direct effect on their capacity to produce rain. Rain normally fell over the catchment areas of the Snowy Mountains, the Victorian Alps and the Brindabellas but that rain is no longer falling there. Rain is falling out at sea where cloud particles essentially are ionised and made clean by the impact of seawater, salt and spray.

This matter was brought to the attention of the government and ActewAGL. We suggested that the government and ActewAGL should participate in the cloud seeding


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