Page 3548 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 25 August 2009

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Paper and statement by minister

Debate resumed from 26 March 2009, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.28): I thank Mr Corbell for making this ministerial statement on water security for the ACT. I thank him because his statement brings into sharp relief the Stanhope-Gallagher government’s quite unbelievable record of inaction and state of denial since it came to office in 2001 in relation to our water security. For eight years, in a time of unprecedented drought across this nation, the Stanhope-Gallagher government has put its head in the sand in relation to securing the ACT’s water future.

This is in the knowledge that, as Mr Corbell commented in his statement, the ACT’s average inflows over the past 15 years have been 93 gigalitres, or less than half the long-term average. The average inflows since 2002, a year after the Stanhope government came to office, have been 67 gigalitres, almost all of which would be consumed every year by the ACT. Over the past three years the average inflow into Canberra’s dams has reduced below our average usage out of the dams at 46 gigalitres. All of these numbers, according to Mr Corbell, are lower than the figures recorded during the great drought years of 1901 to 1914 and during the Second World War.

Let me go back briefly to the previous Liberal government in the ACT, to the period pre 2001. The previous Liberal government developed the ACT’s greenhouse strategy which sought to reduce emissions and meet our targets. Canberra, under a Liberal government, became the first Australian city to join the cities for climate protection program. Under this program, the former Liberal government implemented a large range of initiatives, all directed at reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, they sought to protect our environment and address climate change.

On the legislative front, the Canberra Liberals implemented the first water resources legislation in the ACT, which included the first water resources management plan. They introduced environmental flows guidelines—since then they have been significantly improved—and a number of other initiatives, including cash-backs for installing water efficient showerheads.

On another front, we worked hard and we eventually obtained some membership of the Murray-Darling Basin initiative to reflect the ACT’s awareness of the need to ensure the future sustainability of this important area across jurisdictions. I have in the past complimented the Chief Minister on his initiatives to improve and increase the ACT’s cooperation in the Murray-Darling Basin in its various guises since then.

That was pre 2001; it was pre the 2001 Stanhope era. This was before we got to the worst droughts that we have seen in the ACT’s history, the ones that Mr Corbell commented on in his statement. These were only little things by comparison with what we know we have to do now, but they amounted to real action and they were the start of things to come.

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