Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3192 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
He is a world renowned expert. I was at ACTSPORT several weeks ago. The sporting groups there were very concerned about that issue and were discussing it with the Actew officials. They, of course, had their riding instructions and could not commit to anything there but I did ask them-I read out part of the first email I got from Mr McIntyre-and they certainly recognised him as an expert. They agreed with his calculations in terms of the 260 hectares being 14.3 megalitres per day being used at peak times. So I don't think anyone is doubting what Keith McIntyre says.
However, it is interesting that, even in the peak summer periods of December and January, we are not talking about using a huge amount of extra water on these category 3 ovals to ensure they continue to be watered. As I understand it, there are 60 hectares in those ovals, which would be cut if the proposal to stop watering them goes ahead. If that is only a little over 5.5 per cent of what we use in our households, it isn't terribly difficult to find other areas where we can save water.
There may be parts in the urban services area, apart from sporting ovals, where further savings can be made. There may still be water being wasted by some of the federal government agencies in Canberra, which can also do their little bit. Even when one looks at all of our ovals, we are still talking of not quite 15 per cent of total inside water use, in respect of the water used on all of our ovals.
I believe there would be very few people in Canberra who would not wish to try to save another 5 or 10 per cent within their households, if they knew that one of our most precious assets-our excellent playing fields-was not going to be arbitrarily lost to us. Then, of course, the government, or some future government, has to spend a lot of money-millions and millions of dollars-to get them back up to speed. Surely there are better ways of doing it.
I ask the minister-and recommend to him-to have a look at what the people of Tamworth did. Tamworth is an inland city, much smaller than Canberra, but it has problems similar to ours when it comes to water supply and water access.
I have raised this as a matter of public importance because that is what it is. It also contains many other issues-the sense of community, community wellbeing, the social investment we make in our ovals, and the fact that so many children get enjoyment out of the ovals. It is not only organised sport, it is also the passive recreational enjoyment people individually get out of our ovals.
Sports fields form an essential part of Canberra's wide open spaces. This does indeed come at a cost unless we have a miracle with inches of rain falling, to fill up the Googong Dam. Even with that, I understand there is still a problem, so we must continue our water restrictions-however, I think there are better ways of doing it. I believe the vast majority of people in Canberra would prefer to cut back 5 or 10 per cent on their own domestic use, rather than see this most precious asset destroyed, which would cost the community a hell of a lot of money to bring back.
MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (4.05): The ACT government manages approximately 320 hectares of irrigated grass sportsgrounds that range from high-profile enclosed ovals through to