Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 February 2005) . . Page.. 416 ..
surface dams—the small, domestic, unregulated farm dams, as well as the unregulated use of bores in the area. The groundwater is not being replenished and as a result we do not get run-off into the Googong catchment.
The Googong catchment was once not the most fruitful catchment in the country, but it was a fruitful catchment. The rain is still falling out there, but it is not getting to the dam because we are not ensuring that the catchment is managed properly. Catchment management is a lot more than just talking about native vegetation. Catchment management requires leadership—leadership that we are not getting from this government, leadership that requires this government to go to the New South Wales government and to the federal government and say, “Listen, you fellows. You have responsibilities under federal legislation to ensure that we get high quality water out of the Googong catchment, out of the catchment of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo rivers, and you are not doing anything about it.”
If I were the greatest Chief Minister this territory had ever seen, that is what I would be doing to secure the future of the people of the ACT. But this Chief Minister does nothing. From time to time he says that he has had a little word to Bob Carr, but Bob Carr is not interested because the people of the ACT and the people of Captains Flat and the people of Yarrowlumla Shire are not crucial in returning Bob Carr to power. He is not interested. The Chief Minister should be interested in the level and quantity and quality of water in the Molonglo and Queanbeyan rivers and he does nothing. He does nothing to ensure that we have good quality water for the time to come. Managing our catchments for quality is an important issue. At the outset Dr Foskey said that we needed a holistic approach. It is a shame that she did not bring a holistic approach to this matter under discussion here today and actually talk about the real issues.
Yes, we are losing huge amounts of water through regeneration in the Cotter catchment and we will continue to lose huge amounts of water for possibly 20 years or more. We know that we have huge problems with water quality. The average Canberran who went out to the Cotter on Australia Day saw just how severe our problems with water quality are. The colour of the water is probably best described as café latte. There is no oxygen in the water. The catchment is completely silted up.
This government has failed to manage the catchment. It failed on 8 January to do something about three fires, which became major fires in the water catchment. It sat by and did nothing and that is why, now, we are in this situation of anguishing over whether or not to plant native vegetation in riparian zones. It sound wonderfully poetic, but the reason why we are talking about the need to plant native vegetation in riparian zones is because this government, this Chief Minister and this Minister for Environment failed to put out the fires that destroyed the catchments of the Cotter River on 8 January 2003.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4.31): I, too, thank Dr Foskey for raising the following matter of public importance:
The role of native vegetation in managing catchments for water quality.
The January 2003 bushfires had a catastrophic effect on the ACT and, in particular, on vegetation in the Cotter catchment area. These fires were not a normal fire event; they were a one in 100 year firestorm. In the face of such devastation it is not unexpected that