Page 2872 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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analysis in relation to the extent of that water and appropriate sustainable yield. We believe, in relation to most of the water beneath the ACT in the various subcatchments that are represented, that that sustainable yield has essentially been reached in almost all of them.

With a limited supply, particularly in a period of drought, it begs the question: what is the highest use of that very limited resource and who should have the benefit of that limited resource? It seems to me an obvious question to ask. We have a water resource and we believe it is probably at or just about at its sustainable yield. It is appropriate that we look at and see in the first instance who is benefiting, whether that benefit is a benefit to the broader community, and whether the use of that water represents the highest possible use of the water, and that is what we are seeking to do. We need to put a moratorium on the current system that is in place. It is essentially a first come, best-dressed system, in other words, a system that is operated on the basis that if you have the capacity, through your individual resource, to access the water then you are at the top of the list.

It seems to me that that is a most inequitable way of allocating what is a scarce and increasingly valuable resource, particularly in an environment—and we have debated it in this place—where, as a consequence of the drought, broad community access to infrastructure such as school ovals has been seriously curtailed as a result of our incapacity to water and maintain those ovals. Let me put another part of the equation, and let us use the example that Mr Mulcahy uses. Should a wealthy owner of a large block in Forrest, a millionaire with the capacity to apply for and pay for the sinking of a bore, have his access to this limited resource measured against the fact that, around town, we have been forced to close a number of sporting ovals to our children and sporting groups?

There has been very lively debate within the Assembly around access to sporting grounds within Gungahlin—sporting grounds that were closed because of safety reasons—because we did not have the wherewithal to maintain them. This is part of the equation and this is what has driven this particular initiative. As a community, do we wish to maintain a system that allows, in Mr Mulcahy’s example, wealthy residents, on large blocks, the capacity to maintain their gardens, as against the closing of school ovals and sportsgrounds in Gungahlin? It is an issue—

Mrs Dunne: It is not one or the other.

MR STANHOPE: It is one or the other. We have met our sustainable use—

Mrs Dunne: No, it isn’t; they are different cakes.

MR STANHOPE: It is not a different case: it is exactly the case that we are investigating.

Mrs Dunne: I said it was a different cake; the Yarralumla cake is different from the Gungahlin cake.

MR STANHOPE: All of our subcatchments are essentially at sustainable yield. You cannot go and say; “There is excess water in Gungahlin, but we are at sustainability.”

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