Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3145 ..
Government, is an idea bereft of detailed delivery. (Second speaking period taken.) As a result, I think that the people of the ACT pay dearly for it. It has not been delivered on time or on budget. Importantly, it is taking much longer than planned to deliver the water savings that Mr Corbell and the department said that it would.
On the subject of water savings, the Auditor-General in her report also made comment about residential water savings. She was critical of the performance of the minister’s department in this area as well when she said:
DECCEW needs to improve the reliability of the measures of water savings and compile sufficient and up-to-date information to assess the effectiveness and relative merit of various residential water saving initiatives.
It is interesting because the take-out message I took from reading the Auditor-General’s report was that the domestic water saving measures in DECCEW, which are the ACT government’s, were really a bit piecemeal. Pretty much a constant criticism of mine has been that you have a little project over here to appease some people and a different little project somewhere else to appease other people and that everywhere in public policy we do these things. Somebody says, “Why don’t you have a program that does X?” and to appease that group you do it and you do not quite have a really good policy formulation for why you do it, what the outcome should be or the measures that you should be aiming for.
What the Stanhope government has done over many years in its residential water saving initiatives is to put a little bit of money here and scatter it around—sprinkle it around, should I say—and it does not actually give the benefits it should. I have advocated for a long time—and my colleague Mr Stefaniak before me for a very long time—that all of that money would be better spent if we had a project more like the Queanbeyan City Council tune-up program where you go house by house, do an audit and make some fundamental changes.
One of the things that we know is that people often do not pick up these projects if there is a co-payment, if it is hard to do et cetera. Queanbeyan got around that because they had a very strong imperative; they got around it by going house to house and offering people a suite of services up to a particular dollar value—change some tap washers, turn a single-flush loo into a dual-flush loo, change some showerheads. The Queanbeyan City Council set themselves measurable indicators and they met those. One of the reasons they did that was that they had to do something to stop the volume of water going into their water treatment works, and they actually did that by this water audit. It had the added benefit of reducing the amount of potable water that was being used in households, and it has been a very effective program, which we on this side of the border have always failed to emulate because the Stanhope government does not have the vision to do it.
It is interesting to look at the criticisms by the Auditor-General of DECCEW’s programs. ToiletSmart is a great idea; it is part of what Queanbeyan has been doing for years, but it is not done as effectively as it was done in Queanbeyan. At the last election, we proposed that money should be put together in one big hit so that we could roll out ToiletSmart and target it to people on low incomes who could not easily do this themselves. If Mr Corbell were open to this, he could learn something from