Page 325 - Week 01 - Thursday, 29 November 2012

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approach, not just for Lake Burley Griffin, not just for Lake Ginninderra or Lake Tuggeranong or the Gungahlin ponds, but for our entire catchment, recognising that all of the water that flows through the territory ultimately ends up in the broader Murray-Darling Basin and contributes in either a positive or negative way to the health and wellbeing of the Murrumbidgee and the Murray rivers.

This is a significant win for the ACT—$85 million to be spent on catchment management. I want it to be spent in a manner which is effective. I want it to drive improvement in catchment health not just within the ACT but potentially in the broader region. There is great potential, for example, to work in concert with catchment management bodies upstream of Lake Burley Griffin, in the upper areas of the Molonglo, around Queanbeyan and around the other local government areas adjacent to Queanbeyan City Council. This is where we are going to make some big improvements in the health of our lake but, more importantly, the health of the Molonglo and the health of the Murrumbidgee River. That is where this government’s efforts will be focused.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.33): I thank Ms Berry for bringing on this matter of public importance this afternoon. It is an issue which I think members know is close to my heart and one that I think is very important for this Assembly to be addressing. The importance of the lake, and in fact all of the lakes across Canberra, cannot be underestimated. Lake Burley Griffin tends to get a bit of a focus, being in the heart of the city, but we know that both Lake Tuggeranong and Lake Ginninderra, as well as the smaller ponds around town such as those in Gungahlin or perhaps at Gordon, are all recognised by the community as part of the waterways system. Those main lakes in particular have really been struggling in recent years, particularly from blue-green algae and other problems.

The lakes are incredibly important to our community for a whole range of recreational uses, whether it be the sport I am involved in, triathlon, or the sailing clubs, the dragon boating groups, the sea scouts, the kayakers and the rowers. Some of these are organised activities and some of them are simply people going out, having fun and keeping fit. Of course, the closure of the lakes has a significant detrimental impact on these.

I was very pleased—and I again thank members of the last Assembly—that through a Greens motion that I put forward we were able to get the report from the Commissioner for the Environment started. That has really provided us with an excellent roadmap. I think up until the time of the commissioner’s report we had seen a lot of blame shifting and no-one ever really took responsibility for it. There was a sense that it was the Queanbeyan sewage treatment works and therefore it was New South Wales’s problem. Then we got down to differences between the NCA and the ACT. Really, there was a lot of speculation on what the problems were. There was also debate about the science, what was causing the problems. What we actually got out of the commissioner’s report was a definitive answer on what the problems are and a clear roadmap on how to fix them. That is an incredibly valuable step forward for us.

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