Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 134 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
However, the Snowy scheme was completed and as a generator of electricity is now part of the national power grid. The scheme also supplies water to the irrigation interests in this region and in other places. Significant damage has been done to the environment as a result. There is no question that the Snowy River has been affected, to its severe detriment. There is no doubt that other rivers in the region - the Murray and the Murrumbidgee - have been damaged and it is very unlikely that that damage will ever be fully repaired. This Assembly should urge the Government to ensure that a strong voice is added to the debate about addressing the damage in those rivers.
So much of the scheme is devoted to electricity generation that you have to weigh up in your mind how much more global-warming gases would be produced if a large amount of water were diverted back into streams. Those issues will all have to be addressed in the debate. Diverting water to generate electricity impacts on the availability of water for streams.
I am no great expert on the Snowy Mountains scheme and I do not pretend to be, but it is an issue of importance to the Territory. The scheme has had a significant impact on the environment. It has also had a significant impact on the development of Australia by supplying energy for industry and for domestic purposes. It has affected to a large degree our ability to produce rural products which add to the nation's wealth in one way or another.
At the end of the day this issue will have to be handled with great care. If we remain focused on one issue, we could find ourselves looking fairly silly when it comes to attempting to adjust the impact that the Snowy Mountains scheme has had on the environment in this country. I regret to say that I do not think that we can ever repair fully the damage that has been done. I think most people would share that view. But we have a responsibility to do as much as we can to restore the environment to the maximum practical benefit of future generations, who will measure our performance in this area by our actions in relation to these important debates which are proceeding as we speak.
I welcome the move by Ms Tucker. I think it is a positive contribution to the debate about this issue. I note that the Government is preparing a submission. I would be most interested in seeing that submission before it goes off to the inquiry. I note that the Minister has offered the Greens his personal attention in providing briefings. I would be keen to get my hands on the submission before it leaves this place, so that I can make an assessment of the Government's contribution to the debate. I hope the Government takes on board the views of the Assembly. This motion, in my view, should pass. I trust that the Government will treat the motion with the respect it deserves and truly put forward a strong case for the need to improve environmental flows, as has been put forward by Ms Tucker. I welcome the motion that has been put forward and trust it will be passed unanimously.
MR HARGREAVES (12.04): I rise in support of the motion moved by Ms Tucker. I believe that she has hit the nail on the head with regard to water flow into the Territory from outside. I am concerned about water flow in the Murrumbidgee and its tributaries in Namadgi National Park, specifically the Gudgenby River. As the Minister knows, the Gudgenby River also flows through our rural area.