Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 November 2005) . . Page.. 4537 ..
the renovation of a kitchen, it would be prohibited to install an in-sink garbage disposal unit.
I need to point out that in the last Assembly these measures were passed unanimously; they were agreed to by the Minister for Planning. So it was some surprise to me to find that very recently, on 29 July 2005, the minister introduced the Water and Sewerage Amendment Regulation 2005 (No 1), which specifically put back the possibility of installing in-sink garbage disposal units in the ACT.
This is where the failing came: I was not quick enough to pick up this amendment and to move a disallowance in the disallowance period, which is why we are here today debating this on private members day rather than in Assembly business. It should have been done some time ago, so that was a failing on my part. I did take my eye off the ball. But it is very interesting to question the motivation of this government. As I said before, this was a motion that was passed unanimously in the last Assembly; this was a measure that was part of a suite of water efficiency measures that would be introduced in new domestic dwellings. It was interesting to note at the time that some of the minister’s political staff actually said to me, “Gee, it’s not a bad set of measures, but I am really unhappy about taking out people’s rights to install in-sink garbage disposal units, because I’ve got one and it’s really good.”
In-sink garbage disposal units are, without a doubt, very convenient things to have. But convenience is only one part of it. Let us just look at the figures As a general rule of thumb, an in-sink garbage disposal unit uses about 55 litres a day, which is 20 kilolitres a year for every in-sink garbage disposal unit. When you consider that, according to the think water, act water strategy, an average household currently uses 330 kilolitres of water a year, that means that an in-sink garbage disposal unit increases the water consumption in a house by six per cent. This is no small measure, and what has happened is that somebody has got the ear of the planning minister and he has come in and changed the regulation that every member of the previous Assembly, including him and all his Assembly colleagues, agreed to. They thought it was a good idea. That was just before the election.
It was very interesting because, in the run-up to the election period, I was door-knocking one day and I was chatting to a bloke in a garden and he said to me, “Tell me about the water efficiency measures you have just passed.” I had a chat to him for a while, and he said, “Look, I need to tell you I am a plumber” And I thought, “Here we go. I am just about to get in a bit of a shellacking for doing something that perhaps the plumbers did not like.” And he said, “Some of the plumbers didn’t like it, Mrs Dunne, but what you have done is a very important measure.”
It was only a small measure—and we all admitted it was only a small measure—but it sent an important message to people about how you save water. Finding means of saving six per cent of your household potable water is a very powerful thing indeed. For the most part the plumber organisations were in agreement with this. I consulted with them before the legislation was introduced. I consulted with them on a number of occasions and it was actually the plumbing organisation that pointed out to me that, without consultation with at least the chief executive of the peak body, the minister had changed the regulations. So it had been done fairly much on the quiet.