Page 2878 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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policy—from collecting taxes to allocating public housing. What we are extracting here is, we think, towards the limit of a limited subset of the amount of water that is available. That point needs to be made.

We are not saying that you should not go out and do the science. You do not need the moratorium to go out and do the science. These officials are doing it now. It is happening now. There are surveys going on. What we are saying is that, because of the doubt about the property laws associated with this, do not institute the moratorium. It does not mean that your hands are tied. You can go out and do the science and then the minister can come back in here and tell us what is the state of affairs. He and his colleagues have been responsible for looking after the environment for nearly five years and they have sat on their hands.

Back on World Environment Day in 2002, we passed a motion about the importance of water and one of those issues was ground water. We have been thinking water and acting water in various forms ever since. However, there is a lot of thinking and not much action in the water resources management plan, and this government has been sitting on its hands on ground water. Ground water has always been an issue and, for the past four years, this minister has done nothing about it. His solution is to say, “I really don’t know what’s going on, so what I will do is I will penalise anybody who wants to extract ground water.” People coming up to a third year of drought might be thinking that they cannot keep going like this, that if they do not do something their heritage garden will die.

What this minister has done, with the help of Mr Corbell, is to say that we must preserve the garden city, that people cannot subdivide their blocks, that they must keep their heritage garden and their streetscape. All of those things are not just a private good; they are a public good. Whether it is a higher public good than watering an oval is yet to be determined, but the Chief Minister cannot come in here and say that it is purely a private good. These are legislated things required by this Assembly and what are they doing? They are turning off the tap. That is why the opposition will be opposing this amendment.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.39): Mr Stanhope has asked me to take carriage for the remainder of the bill, as he has to attend a commemoration function for Vietnam veterans this morning. I will keep my comments brief but I do want to respond on the issue of planning provisions as they relate to water use, which is an argument that Mrs Dunne has raised. I have to say that the two are not mutually exclusive nor are they mutually incompatible. That is the issue that should be put on the record here today.

Maintenance of the garden city character, maintenance of the subdivision pattern, which is critical to the early garden city suburbs, particularly in the older suburbs of Red Hill, Forrest and so on, is not incompatible with a requirement for better and more efficient use of water. If Mrs Dunne is advocating that we should proceed to permit subdivision of these blocks, I welcome her argument, but I do not accept that the subdivision pattern, in any way, is at odds or contradictory with the objective of trying to ensure the more efficient use of the water resource, in particular the protection of the ground water resource.

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