Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 May 2007) . . Page.. 828 ..
Mrs Dunne: No, to the freedom of information—28 working days.
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Dunne!
MR STANHOPE: ACT government departments have the information available and ACT government departments will provide that information. Indeed—and this is the point that I was making before I was interrupted—the ACT government will be making a full submission to the public accounts committee in relation to these matters. That is a committee chaired by the shadow Treasurer, Mr Mulcahy. I am sure that there will be an engaging, if not entertaining, conversation or exchange with Mr Mulcahy in relation to the use of credit cards. I look forward to it enormously.
MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to Mr Stanhope in his capacity as Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change. Could the Chief Minister please report to the Assembly on how the Murrumbidgee River is being used to help Canberra’s water supply situation?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. I am able to report that Actew has informed me that, for the first time in this drought, it has started to take water from the Murrumbidgee pump station on the Murrumbidgee River. It is the first time in the context of this drought, although I believe water has previously been taken from the Murrumbidgee, I think, in the 1960s.
In the context of the current drought and the grave circumstances we face in relation to our water supply, Canberrans are today drinking water from the Murrumbidgee River. That is a direct response to the very low reserves, now 31 per cent and continually falling because of the continuing drought. It is part of the contingency planning which has been in place now for some years because of the severe drought conditions, the reduced rainfall and the seriously reduced inflows we have suffered in our catchment.
It is relevant to any discussion on water and our water situation and the debate on how best to secure our water supplies to understand that, in 2006, we suffered the worst inflows into our dams since records were kept, at around 10 per cent of the long-term average. In work that Actew have done in recent years on securing power and water supply into the future, Actew had proceeded on the assumption, based on advice from CSIRO, that, as a result of climate change and bushfires, we might anticipate a long-term average reduction in flows of the order of 30 per cent. In the last five to six years, the reality is that we have suffered a 60 per cent reduction in our inflows, which is twice as serious as the CSIRO had previously advised as a likely worst-case scenario as a result of climate change and the damage from the potash caused by the fire which would not impact for perhaps up to 15 years in terms of inflows into those dams.
The advice I have as of today is that, at this time, at the conclusion of the first third of the year 2007, our inflows in 2007 to date are marginally worse than they were in 2006. Many of us did not anticipate that we could have two years of inflows at that