Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 27 June 2008) . . Page.. 2379 ..
shareholders do have the job of making sure that their appointees to the board are the right people and that the board is doing its job. I think that, fundamentally, in relation to the gas-fired power plant, it was not.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (2.00 am): I too, Mr Speaker, would like to speak today about water security issues, which are a large part of the priorities of the current budget. I realise that most of the estimates committee hearings were focused on the issue of the proposed power station near Macarthur and that ActewAGL officials were questioned comprehensively on this. I think I have said all that I can say on this issue, and so I would like to bring the focus back to another issue that I believe has a great deal of importance to the people of Canberra—water security.
Water security has been an important issue in the past several years as we have seen low inflows to our dams. I note that the storage level was up to 45.68 per cent yesterday, which is an improvement over the storage level at the same time last year. Whilst it is a welcome figure I am sure we all hope the situation will improve in the future.
Like Mrs Dunne, I am glad to see that one of the priorities for Actew in this current budget is to undertake the planning and construction work associated with enlarging the Cotter Dam. This has been a project on which the government, I feel, has dragged its heels before finally making a decision last year. For some time now, we have been in a situation where we have had far lower inflows to our dams than the normal levels, and this has led to a situation where dam levels have been reduced substantially and we are now on water restrictions as a result.
In my time as the shadow minister for environment and water, I continually pressed the government to take action on the water shortage and the long-term water security of the Australian Capital Territory water supply. It caused me a great deal of frustration that the government took so long to act on this issue, and I am glad the decision has now been made and that the planning and construction have been made a priority.
I also note that one of the priorities in the current budget is to undertake design work for the water purification plant, allegedly designed as a demonstration plant. I find this plant to be quite perplexing. The government undertook a review of the issue of recycled water and said that it would make a decision based on consideration of the alleged health risks and other concerns that have been raised. After reviewing the issue, the government took the view that it would not introduce recycled drinking water but would build a recycling plant instead, allegedly for demonstration purposes.
This seems to me, and a great many other people, to be a very disingenuous approach. I do not think that, once the plant has been built, this government or any future government is simply going to allow this expensive piece of capital to be used as an academic curiosity, unless, of course, Mr Stefaniak were to make a comeback, because I know he was dead set against the idea of recycling and subscribed to a lot of the fear-mongering that is raised in association with this process. I strongly suspect that, once built, we will hear more and more calls to ensure that the plant does not remain idle, and it will inevitably be used for more than demonstration purposes. As I