Page 4048 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 16 Sept 2009

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MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary question?

MS HUNTER: Has the government undertaken a cost-benefit review of its water security major projects in light of the significant increases of costs for both the Cotter Dam project and the Murrumbidgee to Googong pipeline?

MR CORBELL: There is no need to conduct a further cost-benefit review. The reason for that is that the only alternative to constructing Cotter Dam and proceeding with Murrumbidgee to Googong is to develop a water purification plant for the ACT. The cost of that plant is significantly higher—significantly higher—than the development of the Cotter Dam and significantly higher than the purchase of water from Tantangara. So the clear cost-benefit still weighs in favour of Cotter and Murrumbidgee to Googong.

The other point that should be made, of course, is as the Treasurer outlined in her speech to the Assembly earlier today. The average annual cost of stage 4 water restrictions to the Canberra community is in the order of $350 million every year that we have stage 4 water restrictions. It is important to stress that the development of the dam is about the same cost as one year of the cost to the community of stage 4 water restrictions. That is what we want to avoid. That is why the dam is still very good value for money for the community.

Cotter Dam—cost

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Treasurer. Yesterday in question time you described the original estimate for the Cotter Dam enlargement as “a very rough estimate”. Minister, why did you and your colleague shareholder approve the Cotter enlargement project on the basis of a very rough estimate?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, the cabinet approved it.

Mrs Dunne: I have a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Territory-owned Corporations Act makes it clear that the shareholders approve. My question is to a shareholder and the minister responsible for Actew. And because she is a shareholder, the Territory-owned Corporations Act requires the shareholders to sign off on an acquisition, not cabinet. I would therefore like the minister to answer the question.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, Mrs Dunne.

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order, members! On Mrs Dunne’s point of order, in the intervening time between the questions, we have had a chance to pull out House of Representatives Practice, which notes that “a minister may transfer a question to another minister and it is not in order to question the reason for doing so”. On that basis, there is no point of order, Mrs Dunne.

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

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