Page 3549 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 25 August 2009

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In 2004, the Canberra Liberals announced a wide range of water saving and security initiatives, all aimed at reducing our mains water consumption by eight per cent per capita by 2007, followed by 15 per cent by 2011 and 25 per cent by 2015. These results were to be obtained through a combination of education, water and energy audits, indoor and outdoor water efficiency measures, installation of water efficiency measures in government buildings, improved planning, rational restriction and improved catchment management.

In looking at more major water security options, we recognised that the 2003 bushfires, along with population growth, development in the region and the effects of climate change, meant that the targets that we set in 2001 were optimistic. We knew that we needed to do much more to secure Canberra’s long-term water security. We looked at a range of security options, including water tanks, the Tantangara pipeline, an enlarged Cotter Dam, and perhaps tapping into a yet unbuilt welcome reef dam, as well as the Tennent Dam. In the end, we considered that a new dam at Tennent would be the best option to secure that long-term security—a new dam in a new, as yet unregulated catchment. We also recognised that it would take some years to construct and fill that dam, but we were ready to start.

Then in 2008, the Canberra Liberals announced another range of water security initiatives that would recognise the contemporary and future needs of Canberra, taking into account the environmental conditions that would govern the direction to be taken. Amongst the many programs and measures we would implement were the enlargement of the Cotter Dam and further feasibility studies in relation to future water storage options, including a new catchment dam at Tennent. Both in government and in opposition, the Canberra Liberals have led the way on water security. We have put initiatives in place and we have made plans for the future. Many of those started even before the droughts and catchment inflows became the vital issue that they are today.

Contrast this with the Stanhope-Gallagher government. With this government, we have had little other than flip-flopping down the years. We have had periods of denial. We have had periods of ignoring reality in the hope that it might go away. Worst of all, we have had cost blow-outs that will sting the people of Canberra not only now but across many future generations.

It is another case of the Stanhope-Gallagher government bungling along on a path of project management incompetence and financial recklessness. It is another case of the Stanhope-Gallagher government being more intent on reports and plans than action and delivery. There was the water purification plant. There were trumpeted announcements that a demonstration plant would be built. Then there were trumpeted announcements that it was off the agenda. There were boastings that they could put off the construction of a new dam. In September 2005 Mr Stanhope said:

If we can put it off forever, what a fantastic achievement by the ACT government that would be.

In March 2006, he said:

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