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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1970 ..

MS DUNNE (continuing):

that we grow, in particular rice. Let me give a quick illustration. It takes 7,459 litres of water to grow a dollars worth of rice. Actew tells me that 7,459 litres of potable water would cost about $7.50. I know we do not use potable water on rice but $7 worth of water being needed to grow a dollars worth of rice is an interesting comparison. I would say to the members here, as I have said elsewhere, that this is an unsustainable, unwise and injudicious use of water.

Going from the broad policy to the local policy, I endorse the moves of the minister and of previous governments to develop an effective water resources management plan. We must endorse and maintain our environmental flows policy. We must endorse broad conservation issues, which is the general tenor the motion that Ms Tucker has put forward today. I endorse Ms Tucker's suggestion that we should be looking at targets for water conservation and I would be happy to engage in debate on that specific subject. Unfortunately, I feel that I cannot endorse the sentiments in even the amended part (2) (b) of her motion. The opposition will be supporting Mr Wood's amendments.

MS DUNDAS (5.10): Mr Deputy Speaker, I am glad to add my comments on water management on this World Environment Day. Over the last 10 years community awareness has increased about sustainability of water usage in Australia. Most Australians are now aware that our limited water resources and growing population mean that responsible water use is fundamental to our health, our economic success and to the ecological health of our rivers and estuaries.

I believe most people in the ACT are aware that the water that flows out of their gardens and into our lakes ends up as the drinking water for over a million Australians who live downstream. For this reason, I believe that most ACT residents would support stronger measures to improve the quality of the water in our streams and lakes.

The Australian Democrats have consistently called for immediate action to halt the continuing degradation of our river systems. We have called for bio-regional plans to be developed and implemented across Australia which identify and ensure a protection of conservation values. We have also argued for the protection of riparian habitats, adequate environmental flows, improvement of water quality in polluted waterways, and the maintenance of water quality where it is currently good.

In 1994, Actew developed the ACT future water supply strategy. The strategy recognised the strong desire of the ACT community to avoid constructing another dam by implementing better demand management. The strategy did set ambitious per capita reduction targets for water use-15 per cent by the year 2000, 25 per cent by 2010, and 35 per cent by 2020-and I am aware that the achievement of these targets is being taken seriously by ActewAGL.

Since this time, there have also been landmark agreements reached by the states with regards to the Murray-Darling Basin. It is clear that the ACT government has participated in intergovernmental initiatives to improve water conservation and to increase environmental flows. It is also apparent that Actew has been working on implementation of greywater re-use systems for irrigating parks and gardens. However, it is worth asking whether the ACT government could be doing more to reduce water demand, to improve

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