Page 2109 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 21 June 2011

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$45 million per year to $220 million per year as the population grows and higher level restrictions become necessary.

The ACT government has made a number of representations to the commonwealth about its concerns with the guide. Our approach has been robust but constructive, with logical arguments based on fact rather than emotion.

The ACT has made detailed submissions to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia’s inquiry into the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin plan in regional Australia. The submissions set out the ACT’s concerns and contain the independent economic analysis which I referred to earlier.

The ACT government has also discussed its concerns directly with the Hon Tony Burke, the commonwealth minister for water; the Hon Simon Crean, the commonwealth minister for regional Australia; and Mr Craig Knowles, the new chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. The government has also discussed the ACT concerns directly with Mr Tony Windsor and the Standing Committee on Regional Australia.

In April this year, I attended a forum of basin state water ministers in Sydney hosted by Minister Burke, and also attended by Mr Knowles, to discuss the next stage in the development of the basin plan. Ministers agreed on a number of important matters. Foremost was a shared vision for the basin. This vision is a healthy working basin in which a healthy river system underpins strong and viable communities. Ministers also agreed on the need for a new, more balanced, inclusive and broader approach to basin-wide planning. This would look beyond the basin plan and the work of the MDBA and bring together all other relevant programs—commonwealth and state—as well as involving local communities.

I am pleased to report that recent meetings with the MDBA and the commonwealth have been very positive about the way forward. The ACT welcomes the new, more constructive and open approach the MDBA is taking to engage the basin states, including the ACT, on the development of a draft basin plan. I believe that this approach will result in a better basin plan and a fairer outcome for the ACT.

There are to be subsequent basin state ministerial meetings specifically on the development of the draft basin plan in which I, as the ACT representative, will participate. Officials from my directorate have attended a significant number of MDBA public and technical meetings. Directorate officials have also had a number of bilateral meetings with MDBA staff. In tabling this report I would like to acknowledge the hard work of my directorate on this critical matter for the territory.

In conclusion, I can assure the Assembly that the ACT government will continue to vigorously pursue the best interests of the territory in respect of the basin plan. I look forward to providing the Assembly with another basin plan progress update in six months time.

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