Page 5716 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 6 December 2011

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and union representatives were initially denied entry to the site by the site manager or ACT government employees, despite there being no immediate safety concerns?

MR CORBELL: I would imagine that, following a structural collapse, immediately following a structural collapse, there may very well be safety concerns. Whether or not there were safety concerns in the particular circumstances that Ms Le Couteur raises is a matter on which I will seek further advice from the Work Safety Commissioner.

Murray-Darling Basin Authority—report

MS PORTER: My question is to Minister Corbell in his capacity as minister responsible for the Murray-Darling negotiations. Minister, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has in the past week released its draft report and it appears that the ACT has received a good outcome. Can you please outline what the report contains for the ACT?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question. It is the case that, following the tabling or the release of the draft plan for the Murray-Darling Basin, released by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, we have seen a significant improvement in the allocation for water proposed by the MDBA, compared to the previous guide to the draft plan released by the authority last year. In its most recent proposal, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority proposes that the ACT have a sustainable diversion limit of 40.5 gigalitres. This is a very pleasing outcome and one that I have been working very hard on for the last six months.

Originally, the draft guide to the basin water plan proposed SDL reductions in the order of 33 per cent or down to the mid 20s in terms of the number of gigalitres available to the ACT. This would have had a very severe impact on the ACT economy. We could have seen a $220 million a year impact and stage 3 or stage 4 water restrictions as the norm under those proposed SDL reductions.

I am very pleased to say that since that time my officials and I have worked closely with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority—me, through discussions with the chair of the authority, Mr Knowles, and with the federal minister, Mr Burke; and my officials, through discussions with their relevant counterparts in the authority—to secure an outcome that sees the ACT’s record as a good and responsible water user appropriately recognised. We now have a proposal for a long-term average sustainable diversion limit of 40.5 gigalitres. That 40.5 gigalitres is sufficient for current and medium-term growth purposes.

The draft plan also proposes that the ACT have 7.25 gigalitres a year of available groundwater, which is an increase in the volume proposed from the previous basin guide. Of this, the ACT can extract 1.7 gigalitres a year. However, this proposal is sufficient when compared to our long-term historical use of around half a gigalitre every year.

Thanks to the hard work of my officials and the hard work of the government as a whole, we have been able to secure an SDL for the ACT and a water allocation for the

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