Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3761 ..
Canberrans not only have had to suffer through severe water restrictions over the past few years, but we will continue to suffer through those. Unless we get a lot of rain in the next couple of years, we are likely to see, on and off, water restrictions for many years to come because this government has delayed action on this crucial issue. It has been caught completely short. It is embarrassing that Mr Gentleman has brought this MPI forward, given his government’s complete failure in this area. Mr Stanhope went on to say:
We might legislate for rain! We will legislate for rain! I would welcome any other suggestion on how we might induce more rain to fall into the catchment.
Of course, Mr Stanhope could have taken on the plan to build a dam well before he actually did, and when it does rain, actually catch some of that water so that we do have some in storage. He has failed to do that, but now, belatedly, he has decided that a dam is a good idea. Whereas a year or two ago it was a terrible idea; a year or two ago we would not need it for 20 years, or forever, now it is a good idea—belatedly spending this money, belatedly acting to try and secure our water supplies.
We have seen the effects of this delay and we will see them for some time. We have seen people’s lawns dying, ovals have been allowed to die and we have seen trees dying. We have seen summer water sports affected, as well as the effect on families, and businesses have suffered as a result. There has been a stifling of growth and residents having to fork out thousands for tanks.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a water tank. For people who really value their gardens, many of them are left with no choice. At the moment, if they want to avoid their gardens dying, they do have to go out and get a rainwater tank because of the restrictions they have been faced with in recent years and that they are likely to see continue for some time. But they are not the overall answer to our water storage issues. They are a very small part of the answer. They are really a personal decision. People make the economic decision to spend thousands of dollars so that they can have some certainty that they can maintain their garden when there are severe water restrictions.
They are being forced into that position by this government’s complete failure. Canberrans have suffered as a result. Quite simply, there has been a lack of vision. And in terms of land release, we are now seeing them desperately playing catch-up because of a complete lack of vision. Sometimes you have to plan for worst-case scenarios. Future planning is not about the best-case scenario; it is about the worst-case scenario. They did not do it in the case of land release; they did not do it in the case of water. It is a government that has lacked vision. I will sit down now and give Mr Barr an extra minute in which to respond. This is an embarrassing MPI given this government’s complete failure in this area.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.50): In the three minutes remaining for the discussion, I take the opportunity to thank Mr Gentleman for raising the issue and also to pay tribute to the sport and recreation industry for their response to the changing circumstances that we face and to say how