Page 4047 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 16 Sept 2009

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MR SPEAKER: I think Mr Corbell was goaded into it, but, Mr Corbell, can we return to the topic.

MR CORBELL: Yes. I am happy to, Mr Speaker. The point I was seeking to make was that Mr Sullivan attempted to provide an estimate but he made it clear that it was an estimate to the Assembly committee. The full range of factors that were potential risks in terms of cost escalation were outlined by Actew in relation to documentation they provided to the ICRC and documentation that is provided publicly elsewhere.

Those are the factors that Actew had regard to, and they disclosed those factors well in advance of the final decision being taken in relation to costs for the project.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, a supplementary question?

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, at that time what questions did you ask of Actew Corporation as to the causes of those cost increases and what answers were given?

MR CORBELL: The decision in relation to cost was made by the Actew board, as I understand it, about two weeks ago. I was away overseas at that period, but my advice is that the government became aware of these matters, and I as the minister became aware of these matters when Actew advised cabinet approximately a week ago. That is when the actual cost—the actual final determined cost—was brought to my attention.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Burch, a supplementary question?

MS BURCH: A supplementary question on Cotter Dam: could the minister please detail to the Assembly the importance of the Cotter Dam project in relation to the ACT government’s broader water security strategy?

MR CORBELL: I would like to thank Ms Burch for that question. This is a very important project for the ACT. What is surprising, of course, is the Liberal Party’s duplicity on this issue because, on the one hand, they like to say, “We support the dam; we support the need for the dam,” but then they do not miss any opportunity to get into a process of besmirching the entire project and its value and its importance to taxpayers. It is important to taxpayers and important to citizens.

The Cotter Dam project will provide the ACT with the second largest reservoir in the ACT’s network of dams. Only Googong Dam will be larger in terms of its capacity. It will deliver 78 gigalitres of water compared to the current four gigalitres. At a time when inflows to our dams are at their lowest level on record, it is needed more than ever. That is why today I have welcomed the decision my by colleague Mr Barr to give his approval to the project, exercising his powers under the Planning and Development Act. That decision means that we have certainty for this project and that this project should proceed in a very short order of time. That is needed, because inflows to our dams are 90 per cent below the long-term average. Our worst year on record was 2006, with 26 gigalitres of inflows. This year we currently are at 11 gigalitres. That is worse than 2006, and that is why this project is so important.

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