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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3095 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

I believe the Bill will serve the ACT community well in managing water resources that serve no purpose other than just being there. Water that is simply there is no less important than water for which an established usage pattern already exists. The Territory has natural resources supporting significant ecotourism activities; its streams and water features are a major element in the catalogue of those resources. Their health depends heavily on continuing refreshment to replace that used by man and to reduction through natural influence.

I referred earlier, Mr Deputy Speaker, to the right of rural land-holders to as much of the water falling as rain on their land as their rural productive activities require, plus a little in reserve for the unexpected hard times that every Australian farmer expects. It is a concomitant of this principle that what the fellow at the top of the catchment does not need he must allow to travel down to his neighbour and so on until the surplus arrives at a stream. I would much prefer to see the Bill expressed to declare that principle than leave it for an administration to implement on a basis open to uncertainty from one government to another or from caprice or from excessive caution or from insider pressures.

In the urban environment I believe that the Government should be actively encouraging and helping householders to install tanks to store water from their roof for domestic purposes. The benefits of this for householders and government alike are enormous and the era of prohibiting domestic tanks on Canberra residential leases because of their perceived conflict with desirable visual values is long past. We know better now. Diverting rainwater into household tanks would not only reduce the amount entering the run-off system and provide households with a better class of domestic water, but also it would offer potential benefits for Canberra's lakes and rivers and could significantly reduce demand on Canberra's public water storages. And not least of those benefits is that reduced run-off will also reduce the amount of pollutants deposited in those watercourses.

Mr Deputy Speaker, there are a number of issues involved. I have not proposed amendments to the Bill. I have already informed the Minister of the general gist of what I was going to say today. I am happy to enter into discussion with the Minister so that we can collectively develop amendments to the Bill where they are required. I do not say that they have to be incorporated in this Bill that we are going to debate today. If we agree that there are deficiencies in the Bill, we can agree on amendments that can be brought forward at some future time. I come back to the point that I made at the beginning: To have an Act like this on the books is essential. The fact that it may have some matters in it or some omissions that need to be rectified need not delay the adoption of the Bill today. But I am happy to enter into discussion with the Minister to see whether we cannot improve it in the future.

MR HIRD (4.21): A number of issues were raised by my committee in its inquiry and my colleague Mr Corbell touched on that. All members of the committee recommended in relation to the environmental flow guidelines that the Bill spell out the considerations to be taken into account in determining those guidelines. I compliment the Minister on the fact that, in the main, he has taken the recommendations in the committee's report.

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