Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 November 2007) . . Page.. 3244 ..
scenarios that might impact on water source and water security within the Australian Capital Territory.
The assumptions that were at the heart of the advice received were around anticipated levels of population growth; anticipated impacts and effects of climate change; the effect of the bushfire on flows into our existing dams; and of course predictions in relation to rainfall, potential rainfall patterns in the future, on the basis of modelling then available in relation to anticipated expected impacts of climate change on regularity and nature of rainfall within the Australian Capital Territory.
As a result of those extensive studies, led or headed up, as I indicated, by the CSIRO, Actew presented to the government a report, which was tabled and discussed at length and debated, that on the basis of the scenarios presented to the consultants, including the CSIRO, and at the heart of consideration by Actew, the view—that scientific and technical and expert view at that time—was that the expectation was that the ACT would not require until 2023, I believe it was, a new dam.
The government accepted that advice. It was a rigorous piece of research. It involved the leading experts within Australia. It was rigorous, it was based on some worst-case scenarios or assumptions, particularly by CSIRO in its modelling of the likely impacts of climate change, of the damage to the catchment of inflows, and it predicted, I believe, that within the scenarios around climate change, bushfire damage, rainfall patterns, that we might expect, at worst, a 70 per cent reduction in inflows into our dams. As members know, last year there was in fact a 90 per cent reduction in inflows into ACT dams—a scenario not imagined in the work that was undertaken at the request of the government in relation to future water security.
I am more than happy to table the reports and the advice on which the government relied at that time. They are publicly available. They were debated extensively and they have been revised, as they would be in the face of the historically low rainfall and inflows which were a feature of last year, on the basis of those inflows, the lowest inflows I think in recorded history. Inflows received into our dams last year were seven per cent of the long-term average. Twenty gigalitres of water in total were received into our four dams last year—an effect not imagined or factored into the detailed expert consideration of these issues that was the basis of advice to the government. The government received explicit advice and accepted that advice.
MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Stefaniak?
MR STEFANIAK: Yes, thanks, Mr Speaker. How much has this head-in-the-sand approach cost the ACT community in terms of reduced economic, social and health outcomes?
MR STANHOPE: I am not sure that it is possible for any objective assessment of costs against those criteria to be made. I am not aware that any such assessment has been undertaken and I have to say I have no intention of requesting that such an exhaustive assessment be undertaken.