Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 October 2006) . . Page.. 3204 ..
young Canberrans are finding it so hard to get into the rental market; why many young Canberrans are forced to sleep out and queue to try to find reasonable rental properties that they would have ordinarily expected to find in years gone by.
I commend this motion. It is a sensible motion. I hope we will get a reasonable debate—not the kind of rubbish we heard from the Chief Minister—and a review of this, otherwise the government need to come back and tell us how they are going to justify this continuing huge imposition and how they will defend the difficulty that many young Canberrans, in particular, are experiencing in trying to find affordable housing in the ACT.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.51): As my colleague Mr Seselja said, this is an important motion. It is an important part of the discussion about addressing one of the elements of housing affordability and the crisis in rental accommodation in particular in the ACT. We heard what was said this morning in the Chief Minister’s rant and it is necessary to correct the record. The Chief Minister said that the Liberal opposition would abolish the water abstraction charge. He said, “This is another one of the things that they would do, and where are we going to get the money from if you abolish the water abstraction charge?”
First of all, I would like to reiterate the point made by Mr Seselja. The Chief Minister asked us what we would do. This is the same as the question I was asked the other day about schools. I was asked, “What would you do, Mrs Dunne, about closing schools?” I have said consistently that we would not say for four years that everything in the garden is fine. We would not say that we do not have to worry about these things. We would not say that we are not going to close schools and then close 40. We would not say that nothing is wrong. We would not suddenly say, “Oh gee, we have got 2,000 more public servants than we thought we had. We have got this huge deficit and we have to stare it down somehow.” We would be responsible financial managers. You cannot take the problems that this government has created, foist them upon us and say, “What would you do in the same circumstances?” because those same circumstances would not exist.
I need to put these remarks on the record. I hope that I do not have to do so consistently but I have to correct the misinformation we heard from the Chief Minister. At no stage have I or any other member of the opposition said that we would abolish the water abstraction charge. For 2½, probably three or maybe even four years I have consistently and regularly questioned the legality of the water abstraction charge on the basis that if you collect the money, which is called a water abstraction charge, and you do not allocate it for managing water, this action may be illegal. What we are seeing in this territory is money collected from the water abstraction charge not being allocated to water resource management. If that is the case, it may be illegal.
This is a live issue which I have raised consistently for three or four years. I have questioned the Chief Minister and the minister for water resources on a regular basis. The Chief Minister is always very cute about it. He says, “We will spend it wisely; we will spend it carefully.” When you challenge him he knows that he is on thin ice when it comes to the legality of the water abstraction charge. We have never said that the charge would be abolished. We have never said there is not a place for the water abstraction charge. The water abstraction charge was, in fact, initiated by a Liberal minister for water resource management. It was initiated for water resource management. All of the