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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3820 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

stars. They were clearly superior to buildings that were just packed full of insulation but which were also given five stars.

The government has requested that Planning and Land Management undertake a review of the arrangements for the energy rating of buildings towards achieving the objective of allowing for a greater range of rating, for buildings beyond five stars. That is the process that is under way at the moment.


MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Wood. Minister, this morning you made an announcement that the ACT is in drought. Can you outline to the Assembly how this decision was made and the action the government is taking to conserve water during the drought?

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, earlier today I formally declared that the ACT was in a state of drought. I know it is stating the obvious, but there are processes to be followed as we work down this path, and one is a formal declaration of drought.

I also released today a strategy that looked at both urban water use-building on what the Chief Minister announced last week-and a strategy for putting out drought measures. You asked what factors were taken into account in the decision. They were rainfall and evaporation over the last two seasons; soil moisture-whether the soil is able to contain some pasture growth; the level of farm dams; and paddock conditions. We also talked to the rural lessees-over 150 of them-or to them through their representatives. They are the factors that are taken into account. When it all comes together, the time has come when a drought needs to be declared.

In general, the ACT hasn't even been as badly affected as some parts of nearby New South Wales. We did have some quite good rain a couple of months ago, so the ACT has held on. But it is now getting in very short supply.

That will enable rural lessees, depending on all the terms, conditions and requirements, to seek Commonwealth aid. I understand that one of the things it can do is allow them to spread their taxation liabilities over a period. There are other Commonwealth benefits for which they might be eligible. But time will tell on that. Some of our rural lessees, as I indicated here the other day, have incomes beyond the farm income, so that might preclude a level of eligibility.

The sort of thing that the ACT government could do down the track is look at a subsidy on stock movements-taking stock for sale, slaughter or agistment somewhere or taking fodder and water to drought-affected stock. They are the sorts of measures that the ACT government could consider. One of the other areas we are looking at, if necessary, is further culling of kangaroos. This might be allowed. Strict conditions apply where they are competing for feed with stock.

In respect of the document that went out today there was more detail and more broad stuff on the next steps. We are at level 1 in the measures that the Chief Minister announced last week. That is the voluntary request: "Please ease off of on your own account to reduce water usage by 15 per cent."

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