Page 4543 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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developments where people can see gardens. There is one in Melbourne, near where my daughter lives. It is a great block of flats that has a tiny little bit of ground around it. I always love walking past it because somebody in those flats grows tomatoes every year. That person, he or she, is kind of solving the problems of every resident housed there. I would like to meet him, but I would not know which door to knock on. That person is perhaps also solving the waste problems of people in those flats and building a sense of community at the same time—and probably providing them with tomatoes. This sounds like a very green thing to say, but I would have to say that these in-sink garbage disposal units are the very opposite of green.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (5.04): The government will not be supporting the opposition’s motion and I want to outline at the very beginning, and reassure members, that in no way has the government come under any pressure from the development lobby on this matter. In fact, it is quite the reverse. The government has taken a close look at these provisions and has decided that, one, they do not work, and, two, they are certainly not enforceable. The motion that Mrs Dunne has put forward today is ill informed and I stand by my decision to make the Water and Sewerage Amendment Regulation 2005 (No 1), which overturned the ban on in-sink waste disposal units.

Provisions in the water and sewerage regulations that banned the installation of in-sink waste disposal units were introduced by way of an amendment put forward by Mrs Dunne in the Assembly last year. This bill was a piecemeal attempt at introducing water efficiency measures, contained many flaws and was unworkable. The government sought to amend the legislation as best it could while leaving in place the initiatives proposed by the opposition, as at that time these had the Assembly’s support.

The arguments for the introduction of a ban on in-sink waste disposal units were not only ill informed in terms of the ban’s ability to reduce water usage but also misguided in terms of its impact on water quality and waste management practices. Having reviewed the measures in the legislation to ban the installation of in-sink waste disposal units, the government has concluded that the measure is not an effective means of reducing water use and it denies many ACT residents an alternative means of reducing landfill waste.

Mrs Dunne’s assertions that the in-sink waste disposal units are highly ineffective, that the lower Molonglo water treatment facility would be unable to cope with the increased water flows and that insinkerators pollute the Molonglo River are simply incorrect. Advice provided by Environment ACT indicates that, even with high market take-up rates of up to 50 per cent, which are highly unlikely, the increase in water usage will be less than one per cent.

Let me just go into this in a little more detail. We know already that the kitchen is not a major water consumption area, and that there are not great water savings to be gained in this area. Of entire household use, only six per cent of water use occurs in the kitchen. Water is a precious resource and should be used wisely, but just how much water do in-sink garbage disposal units use and how much would we save by banning their installation in new homes?

Recent advice the government has received from Environment ACT on water consumption of modern units indicates that they use as little as six litres per person per

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