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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3871 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

We need to ask the community what they want to do and give them enough information so that, if we built a dam, they know why we are doing it and they are confident that we have the money to do it. Mr Costello, the head of Actew, says that we have the money to do these things, so we should at least have a proper discussion.

Many of the issues of better management and the use of water are about our water restrictions regime and our water conservation regime. As I said in today's Canberra Times, we should be looking at long-term solutions, not just short-term solutions. Some of the solutions I commend to the house today we will be taking on seriously when we have our water resources strategy, which will appear within 10 days.

Those are things like abandoning the odds and evens idea, which actually encourages people to water their garden too frequently, and replacing it with "once a week is enough"; having total water bans; allocating watering at night; allowing people who have proper low-use sprinkler systems to use them; ensuring that they are meeting their requirements for a 40 per cent reduction; and ensuring that in future sprinkler systems have moisture sensors in the ground.

While doing this and looking after our water resources, we need to make sure-as you, Mr Deputy Speaker, have said on a number of times-that we do not end up as the bushless capital at the end of this drought. We need to protect our heritage trees and heritage gardens and plantings of large and significant trees to ensure that they live through this drought.

We must do much more about the inside, and Mr Stanhope is always saying we need to get a 12 per cent cut and, eventually, a 20 per cent cut. If the studies undertaken by the housing department a few years ago are correct, we could achieve a 24 per cent cut overnight with the simple application of a simple washer that costs less than a dollar per installation. But this government will not look at this proposal. We need to make serious inroads to ensure better water conservation.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (4.15): Much of what has been said thus far in the debate is unarguable. We might quibble somewhat over the particular measures that might be taken and might want to own some of them for ourselves. Nevertheless, it is clear that we need to reduce water use in the psyche-to change our life habits in the use of water in order to conserve the very precious resource.

I am afraid we also need to manage demand through either restriction or the price mechanism. I can advise the house today that I have already taken steps to introduce some legislation that will allow the pricing of water to go beyond cost recovery and in effect allow the government-therefore, the Assembly-input into the pricing structure of water, rather than having it set by the ICRC on a pure price recovery basis.

This debate is about whether we ought to expand our water capacity or no and how we would handle growth-or whether the availability of water itself might inhibit growth. Opinions will vary, and I do not want to debate the actual size of Canberra or what it ought to be and what we might do in terms of containment of growth. But let me say this much: Canberra's economy depends on physical growth.

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