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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 October 2010) . . Page.. 4735 ..

MR CORBELL: Mrs Dunne can characterise my response in whatever way she wishes—she is usually inaccurate, and she is on this occasion as well. The government is taking a sensible and prudent approach to this issue. This is not a matter which warrants panic or overexaggeration. What we have before us is a guide to a draft plan—a guide to a draft plan. It is not even the draft plan required under the relevant commonwealth legislation, so we are many, many months away from a decision in relation to the draft plan let alone the final plan when it is made by the commonwealth minister.

The government will use the time available to us to pursue constructive and detailed discussions with the authority and with the commonwealth. That is what I indicated on day one. That remains our position.

MR SMYTH: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SMYTH: Yes, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Minister, what issues will the ACT government be putting forward on behalf of the ACT in the consultation process now underway?

MR CORBELL: I do not know whether Mr Smyth was listening to my previous answer, but if he had been, he would know that the key issue for the territory is the issue of the cap that is proposed to be reduced in the guide to the draft plan, and that is of significant concern to the territory. What that will mean to the territory is that, if that sort of cap is established for the territory, we will have to significantly increase environmental flows, we will have to—and this is an important consideration financially—purchase water entitlements from other places in the basin and use those to supplement our existing supply or we will have to curtail water use in some manner.

This is a long-term concern for the territory. It is not something that is going to impact on the territory overnight. But it is something that we have to deal with at this time, and that is why we will take the opportunity over the coming months, as the commonwealth goes through what is a very extensive consultation process, to raise our concerns with the commonwealth, to meet with the relevant commonwealth minister, to meet as a full voting member of the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council, and raise these issues.

I believe it is also very important that the territory adopts a constructive approach, because this is fundamentally an issue about the overall health of the basin. There is a need, a fundamental need, to restore flows within the basin, and we are supportive of achieving that outcome. So we will not be characterised, and I will not have the territory characterised, as a recalcitrant jurisdiction, as a jurisdiction that is sticking its head in the sand on this issue. We will adopt a constructive approach on this difficult area of reform. (Time expired.)

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, a supplementary question.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Smyth.

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