Page 4540 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.50): I hesitated there because I assumed there would be a speaker from the government, though I was wondering how the government could possibly argue against this motion.

Mrs Dunne: It will be interesting—

DR FOSKEY: It will be interesting, and I did want to wait and hear it before I stood up, but it looks as though they are saving that one for you, Mrs Dunne.

This is a situation where I think the Liberals look like the Greens. The Liberals were accusing Labor of looking like the Greens earlier on today, but now the Liberals look like the Greens—and that is all good as far as I am concerned. The more people who look like the Greens, the better; it means we are doing our job.

I give my wholehearted support to Mrs Dunne’s motion, which calls on the Minister for Planning to repeal the Water and Sewerage Amendment Regulation 2005 (No 1) and I guess that the Minister for Planning will be responding shortly. I also need to say that I let this regulation get past me too, and I appreciate the vigilance of and the role that the plumbers have played in bringing this before us today.

I agree with the ban that existed on the installation of new in-sink garbage disposal units in the ACT, because these units are water inefficient and a waste of good organic nutrients. I felt that Mrs Dunne gave a very good exposition of most of the reasons related to water for continuing the ban and I endorse those. I also want to compliment her on her depth of understanding on that one. It does lead me to wonder how you could possibly go from there to saying we need a new dam, but I will not have that argument right now.

The units were prohibited for good reason—good water-saving reasons—and it is disturbing that the government casts these reasons aside, saying that “it only adds one per cent to the total urban water usage”. Mrs Dunne used very different figures to that; she was talking about six per cent of household use, so maybe one per cent of total urban water usage when we start talking about watering of parks and so on. But one per cent is still a significant amount of a household’s water use, given that most of it is used on their gardens.

I am interested that this regulation was brought down at a time when we did not know whether the drought had broken or not. There was nothing evident; there was no reason that a person, an interested bystander, could see as to why this regulation was brought in, and I am looking forward to the government’s explanation for that. Given the drastic drought conditions over the past few years, it is very sad that the ACT water managers have not found better, more conservative ways to manage our scarce water resources, rather than using good drinking water to wash organic matter down a sink blender. To me, this is almost akin to hosing down dry waste, and I hope we do not start seeing that again now that water restrictions have been withdrawn.

Mr Corbell stated in his explanatory statement to this regulation that composting is the preferred means of organic waste disposal and that in-sink waste disposal units are seen as an alternative to this in medium-density dwelling where suitable land is unavailable to

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