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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 49 ..


MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, on 21 September 2005 you said in the Assembly in relation to a possible new dam:

If we could put it off forever, what a fantastic achievement by the ACT government that would be.

On 16 August in the same year you stated in the Assembly that I had marooned myself in the “dam or die party” or the “dam or bust party”. Your dam busting days were not over, Chief Minister, because on 28 March 2006 you said in the Assembly:

… it may be that we do not need to think again about whether or not we will ever need a dam. Perhaps we will in 30 years time, perhaps longer and perhaps never.

Less than two years after making this selection of extraordinary statements, you announced plans to expand the Cotter Dam, six years after coming to office and several years after the most severe drought in 100 years. Now that you have back flipped on the policy of building a dam, will you apologise for the pain and the increased costs your delays in acting have caused Canberra?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mrs Dunne for her question. It gives me an opportunity to actually outline the very significant steps that the ACT government has taken in relation to water and water security and our achievements in relation to that.

Mrs Dunne: Mr Speaker, my question was about the impact of the delay and the cost the delay is having on the ACT community. It is not an opportunity for the Chief Minister to talk about water security; it is an opportunity for the Chief Minister to explain why he did nothing about this for so long.

MR SPEAKER: I think the subject matter of the question had some inferred meanings as well. It was about water supply, and it is up to the Chief Minister to respond to that theme, including whether or not he wants to apologise.

MR STANHOPE: In 2006, Mr Speaker, the time of the quotes referred to by Mrs Dunne, the ACT’s dams were at 67 per cent capacity, and the ACT Assembly had resolved to seek to avoid the construction of a new dam, if that were possible. It needs to be remembered that at the time I made those comments the context in which I made them was that our dams were at 67 per cent capacity and Actew had delivered a significant and vigorous report to the Assembly which had relied very much on expert advice from the CSIRO and a number of consultant experts in hydrology, water and climate change and, indeed, involved significant assessment of the implications on water uptake as a result of the impact of the 2003 bushfire on the catchment.

That work, underpinned most significantly by detailed research from the CSIRO, revealed, in terms of a detailed analysis, a worst-case analysis of the impacts of climate change, the implications of the bushfire on the catchment and on population growth and our needs into the future, that, at the earliest, the ACT would need an additional dam no earlier than, I think, 2023, was the date included within the report.

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