Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1971 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
water quality in our rivers and lakes, and to establish environmental flow levels on the basis of sound scientific research.
There are a number of areas that I believe could benefit from re-examination. For example, the Water Act has not yet been amended to reflect current objectives of water management, which are no longer primarily focused on water licence allocation but instead are primarily focused on reducing demand and protecting water quality. In addition, perhaps it would be more appropriate to place a firm cap on total water usage rather than just on per capita usage, and it seems that more needs to be done to implement environmental flow objectives. The ACT Environment Commissioner recommended recently that the ACT government assess the adequacy of environmental flows to determine whether the flows are protecting aquatic ecosystems in downstream waters.
We also know that the water quality in our lakes and in the Molonglo River, Paddys River and in Ginninderra Creek have at times been quite poor. Perhaps the ACT government could be doing more to ensure that there is sufficient native vegetation along these waterways to filter rainfall runoff, and exploring other measures to ensure that when we do have good water quality in our lakes and rivers, we maintain it.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not be supporting Mr Wood's second amendment. It is obvious that it would be constructive to engage the public directly in the process, to set targets for improved water management, rather than leaving decisions and action to ActewAGL and officers of Environment ACT alone. While I commend the work that ActewAGL has done to educate ACT residents about water conservation, greater community ownership and involvement in conservation strategies must be achieved through a process that genuinely engages the community in the policy development process.
The Australian Democrats oppose private ownership of water resources and water supply infrastructure. At the structural level, the unusual and awkward public private model we now have in place in Canberra for water supply creates confusion about what the government can and cannot do to ensure best practice water management. We saw this in the recent debate in the Assembly about whether or not the government could require ActewAGL to put information about greenhouse gas emissions on electricity bills.
For this reason it would appear sensible to examine the current arrangements in greater detail, and this is what the motion is talking about-an investigation. We do not know what the outcome will be, but we should explore it to see if the ACT government could make the transition to a more effective administrative arrangement so that the government, and through them the Assembly, have the power to make the best possible decisions for our environment, including our waterways. It is for these reasons that I am supporting Ms Tucker's motion.
MR QUINLAN(Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (5.16): Mr Deputy Speaker, the term "as far as possible" that Mr Wood has incorporated in his amendment makes eminent commonsense. We are