Page 414 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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that can exacerbate erosion. The cooperative management approach between stakeholders that has been put in place will ensure the return of the lower Cotter to a high quality water catchment zone with multiple uses. But the work to restore our catchments will, of course, be ongoing. I will be asking the catchment management group, established last year to advise the government on these issues to give the preparation of operational guidance for the lower Cotter a high degree of priority.

The group, which includes the interests of all ACT agencies with a stake in catchment management, also includes independent experts. The catchment management group is chaired by Dr Gary Jones, head of the Ewater Cooperative Research Centre, with members having experience in health policy, environmental resource management, ACT Forests, Namadgi Park, ACTEW, Environment ACT and the Office of Sustainability.

The Cotter, when restored, will see a layered approach with the use of native vegetation, grasses, shrubs and canopy trees protecting the immediate riparian areas of the catchment. Reafforestation in those areas will complement the catchment management for supply of quality water and the reintroduction of native vegetation to other areas. The government is continuing to monitor and, where necessary, revise or finetune its strategies. This is happening now.

Officers have been in the field for some time undertaking various work and studies in the catchment. However, it should be noted that, while there is always room for improvement, the situation would have been much worse had we not acted at all. We remain committed to seeking and utilising all of the expertise available to us within the ACT, and indeed from within Australia, in relation to the appropriate response to the reafforestation, protection, maintenance and enhancement of our catchments, most particularly, of course, in the Cotter catchment.

This is not an issue that we have taken lightly. We have put enormous effort and resources into it. We are determined to achieve good, sustainable outcomes and we are determined to ensure that the paramount importance of our water supply and our water quality is not jeopardised by anything that we do in our response to restoring the catchments on which we rely. It is not something we have done lightly. We have taken the best advice available to us, the best advice in Australia, as well as internationally recognised advice from pre-eminent scientists and experts in these particular fields. We have acted on that advice, and we will continue to do so.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.22): The role of native vegetation is of considerable importance in managing water quality in catchments. I would have preferred Dr Foskey to come here with a matter of public importance in relation to managing catchments for water quality. Let us not just worry about whether we have native species or native vegetation.

The Chief Minister has given quite a fine exposition of some of the things that are planned in the Cotter catchment. Towards the end of his presentation he made an interesting point. He said that water quality and other matters should not be jeopardised by anything that we do. There are sins of omission, not just sins of commission and I would like to concentrate here on some of the things that we have failed to do in the past three or four years which have brought us to this sorry state.

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