Page 4547 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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In summary, the installation and use of these units do not raise significant environmental issues. Water consumed by these units is minimal, as we have already explained. Energy use and greenhouse gas production is minor, and the diversion of some solid waste away from landfill may be slightly beneficial.

In light of the above arguments, I cannot support the motion, on environmental grounds.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.20), in reply: If you believed everything that Ms Porter put forward in her motion, it would be a positive policy for the ACT government to go out and encourage every householder in Canberra to install an in-sink garbage disposal unit. The logical consequence of what the minister has said is that everyone who has one is doing a positive environmental good. The ACT government cannot come up with a way of dealing with putrescible waste, so we should all put our vegetable scraps into the sewer and have them treated by the lower Molonglo treatment works.

The logic of what this minister is proposing defies belief really. I am sorry Dr Foskey obviously did not have the fortitude to sit around and listen to the drivel coming from the government on this issue. As Dr Foskey rightly said at the beginning of her introductory remarks, it would be a very ingenious argument for anyone to oppose this proposal.

Mr Corbell did say at the beginning of his remarks that the proposal was not enforceable, but he did not even have the audacity to elaborate on that later on. If it is not enforceable, it is a failure of his certifying system that he upholds. If the system is not enforceable, there is something wrong with the inspection process that goes on in relation to approving plumbing.

This is the real problem: this minister does not care. Apart from the run-up to the ACT election, since 2002 when this bill was first introduced Mr Corbell has filibustered with it and tried various means of putting it off so that he would not have to deal with it. The means that this minister has used to forestall this since the outset show that he has no concern about water efficiency and water reduction, even if it does save one per cent of our water use in the territory. We have to remember that this government has set us a target of saving 12 per cent of potable water by 2013, and we are just adding to usage by allowing this regulation.

While one hand of government is saying, “Let’s pull back our use of water,” the planning minister and the plumbing approval organisations are saying, “Let’s waste some water.” The reason it is being done is to cover the rear end of the ineffectual Minister for Urban Services, who cannot come up with a solution for putrescible waste. Mr Hargreaves’s solution for dealing with putrescible waste is to flush it down the sewer, because he cannot come up with any other solution.

It is interesting actually. I wonder what the motivation was. This minister said there was no clamouring from the plumbing industry or the development industry. There was certainly no clamouring from the plumbing industry, because they found out about it after the event. He says that these units do not use very much water and only six per cent of people have one anyhow. So there is not a huge demand out there, but this is a symbolic thing. No one denies that it is only a small thing—

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