Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1439 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
On a final matter I would add that, in moving this referral, I am very conscious of the already wide-ranging and comprehensive work that has been undertaken by officers of Environment ACT in the development of this legislation and also conscious of the work they will need to undertake, once this Bill is passed, in developing it and implementing it. For that reason, Mr Speaker, I indicate that certainly from this side of the house it is an issue that we want to treat with all due care and attention but not delay unnecessarily in any way. We would like to see it dealt with and resolved well before the end of this sitting year.
With that, I urge other members to support this referral. I believe it will provide for a good process and an effective process in dealing with what is perhaps the most significant piece of legislation on the Territory's water resources ever to come before this Assembly.
MR HIRD (11.31): Mr Speaker, as chair of the Urban Services Committee, I welcome Mr Corbell's motion. Mr Corbell and Mr Rugendyke are members of my committee. I must say that I share some of the concerns that Mr Corbell has indicated to the house. As chair, I have taken the liberty to have preliminary discussions with the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Brendan Smyth, who has informed me that officers of the department are looking forward with some enthusiasm to assisting our committee in its deliberations, and we will expedite the necessary procedure to bring a report to the parliament as soon as possible. I urge members to support the motion.
MR KAINE (11.32): Mr Speaker, I support the proposal to refer this Bill to a committee. I consider this to be a very significant Bill for the Territory. It is a matter that raises many issues. On reading the Bill carefully, I find that the Bill in fact raises more questions than it answers. I think there is a need to examine carefully some of the implications that arise from this Bill. I believe that those matters are so numerous and so wide-ranging in their ramifications that it is not appropriate that they be debated here. They need to be shredded out in a different environment without pressure and where the matters can be looked at dispassionately and objectively in order that this Bill will achieve the objectives which it would properly seek to achieve. I believe that the best place to do that is in a committee. For that reason I support the referral to the Urban Services Committee.
MS TUCKER (11.34): The Greens are happy to support the referral of this Bill to the Urban Services Committee as there are significant aspects of this Bill which I have major problems with. I think that Assembly members and the community would benefit from looking at this Bill in greater depth before a vote is taken on it. Until recently the management of water had been regarded as the prime responsibility of government. Government utilities built the dams and piped the water throughout the community. This idea has, however, been challenged in recent years by the rise of economic fundamentalism, which believes that it is more efficient to have water traded as a commodity through markets involving private companies.
This Bill reflects this approach by not only regulating the taking of water from ACT waterways, but also establishing a market for water where allocations of water can be sold off to the highest bidder, who can then trade their allocations with others not just in the ACT but interstate. Somebody could buy our water here but then take this water