Page 610 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 9 March 2011

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that there is now an improved understanding of the concerns the territory has in relation to the proposals from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority at this time.

Fundamentally, our concerns are that the proposal from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in its guide puts in place reductions which are the highest in percentage terms of any element of the basin. They put in place reductions that are based on our net sustainable diversion limit whereas reductions in all other parts of the basin are determined on a gross SDL calculation, so we are being unfairly penalised in that regard. We also have serious concerns about the fact that no socioeconomic analysis has occurred to justify the MDBA’s reduction. In fact, the MDBA have advised the territory that they have specifically excluded us from their socioeconomic analysis, a position we believe is completely unreasonable and unfair and must be rectified. Further, there is no regard to the fact that the territory faces significant population growth between now and 2050—up to half a million residents by that time—and we need water security and we need an assurance that there will be water supply available for us into the future.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hargreaves, a supplementary?

MR HARGREAVES: My supplementary to the minister is this: is there anything you wish to add to the answer you have just given to me, minister? And will the minister advise the Assembly what are the water management practices that support his claim for better treatment for the ACT in developing the plan?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the supplementary question. The point I would make is that the ACT does have very strong water management credentials and we already return about 50 per cent of all the ACT’s available water resources for environmental flows. In an average year, the ACT only diverts about a net eight per cent of its water resources for consumption. Compare this with the New South Wales portion of the Murrumbidgee River, where more than 50 per cent of the water resource is diverted for consumptive use. That is obviously extreme over-allocation. The ACT is nowhere near that. Our diversion of water for consumption is extremely modest. In these circumstances, we believe the MDBA must think again about the amount of the reduction that it is seeking from the territory.

It is also very important to remember that the territory cannot be assisted by the commonwealth in the same way as the commonwealth is suggesting in other jurisdictions, and that is through water buy-backs. There is no water to buy back in the territory. So the only other option available is for the territory to purchase water entitlements in some other part of the basin and then have that credited to us for our use.

In practical terms, what that means is that we release water from our dams. It flows through the ACT into New South Wales and then we have to buy it back. It is an unreasonable and unjust imposition on the territory and it is for these reasons that we are advancing the arguments we are. (Time expired.)

MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne, a supplementary.

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