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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3447..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

demonstrates the government's commitment to securing a sustainable water supply for the ACT over the long term?

Mr Pratt: Judging by the sprinklers on during the day-waste water.

MR STANHOPE: It is good to see that steel-trap mind there hard at work, Mr Pratt, though I must say that Sherlock Holmes is rather flattering. Inspector Clouseau we all immediately identified with-

Members interjecting-

MR STANHOPE: but Sherlock.

Members interjecting-

MR STANHOPE: The Pink Panther; Inspector Gadget; Inspector Clouseau certainly strikes a chord.

MR SPEAKER: Come to the subject matter of the question, please.

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. It is an important question. At this stage there is nothing occupying the minds of Canberrans and Australians more than water and water policy. I am pleased that the ACT government, since its election and during this term, has made water and water resource management within the ACT a major priority. We have taken a raft of decisions to ensure short, medium and long-term policies are in place to ensure the security of water supply within the ACT. We have done that, of course, as a result of a combination of both this long and now-in the opinion of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology-the worst drought in recorded Australian history.

The last briefing I had from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology at the last meeting of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission was that at that stage, which was just three or four weeks ago, the Bureau of Meteorology were not yet convinced that this particular drought could be described fairly as harsher or worse-in the context that droughts are worse-than the federation drought of 1902 or thereabouts, but they did feel that if we did not receive average rainfall between then and the end of summer they would be characterising this as the worst drought in recorded Australian history.

As a result of that and, of course, the continuing impacts of the 2003 bushfire on our catchments, the government has over this last four years taken a significant range of steps, not just through the development of a water resource policy think water, act water but through the development, establishment and construction of significant additional infrastructure at very significant cost. I do not have the final dollar amount in terms of investment over the last three years in water infrastructure in the ACT but it is of the order of $80 million, which is a massive investment by ACTEW in water infrastructure. We have committed and spent nearly $80 million now to ensure that we have a water treatment capacity that will meet the needs of a city the size of Canberra. It is sobering to reflect that prior to the 2003 fire we did not have the capacity in water treatment to treat water for our entire population, which was a shortcoming that has now, for the first time, been dealt with.

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