Page 4824 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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say “may”—occur in the region and the basis on which, subject to that, the ACT would be prepared to provide water. As I have explained on many occasions—an explanation that more often than not has fallen on deaf ears—these are framework agreements which set out the circumstances that need to be satisfied before decisions can be made as to whether or not the ACT will provide water to New South Wales. These are very significant issues for us.

Through the spatial plan, we have developed for the ACT a very rigorous, essentially settlement, hierarchy—a sequence under which we will develop the ACT. It is very important, in the context of the spatial plan, that it be reciprocated by a similar rigorous objective sequence of proposed or agreed development which measures, with the spatial plan, the work the ACT has done. One of the issues we have been negotiating that led to the delay in the ACT’s signing off was the basis on which New South Wales would approach planning decisions in relation to settlement within the region. These are issues we need some firm understanding on.

The ACT cannot just, willy-nilly, scatter water, which is a most rare and valuable resource, around the region because a couple of politicians across the border and the mayor of a local council are fairly determined to seek some personal advantage or think that, now that we have done the hard work—taken the hard yards—and secured a water supply at significant cost to the ACT ratepayer, it is all right to come in and start bludging off the people of the ACT for this hard-earned and hard-protected resource.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The minister’s time has expired.

MRS DUNNE: I ask a supplementary question. Given that, according to Actew’s own documentation, the ACT uses only 6 per cent of the water available to it with the remaining 94 per cent being used downstream by irrigators, free of charge—and I suppose that is sprinkling it willy-nilly—why have you not apparently previously exercised your paramount right to the sovereign control of ACT water?

MR STANHOPE: We do. That is an absolutely absurd question. At no stage have we done anything other than that. As utilisers of water and as respecters of the environment we have been rigorous in our use of water. If the Liberal Party were in power we know that the day after the last election, if it had won, it would have commenced work on the construction of Tennent Dam. It was the proud boast of Mr Smyth and Mrs Dunne on the very day of the election that construction was to commence.

I remember all those things most vividly. I remember the slogan, “Vote as if your life depends on it”. How could we ever forget that slogan? Before the election I remember Mrs Dunne going around the electorate stating, “If a Liberal government is elected we will adopt Anthony Blaker’s approach to the retrofitting of every house in the ACT.” She then did the costings, which came out at $840 million, and all of a sudden it is a policy on which the Liberal Party has gone very soft.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The member will come to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: It is relevant to the question of water and to the decision that has been taken. I remember the $840 million promise from which the Liberal Party has not yet resiled. I guess that is in Mr Mulcahy’s alternative budget.

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