Page 2261 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

support this bill today, but I would like to express some concerns about the minister having absolute discretion in appointing the representatives, and I will expand on this a little more later.

As I mentioned the bill proposes amendments to the act. The bill will add a new part 7A to the act. The bill relates closely to the objects of the act, which include ensuring that management and use of the water resources of the ACT sustain the physical, economic and social wellbeing of the people of the ACT while protecting the ecosystems that depend on those resources; protecting aquatic ecosystems and aquifers from damage and, where practicable, to reverse damage that has already happened; and ensuring that the water resources are able to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations.

The purpose of the bill is to establish the ACT and Region Catchment Management Coordination Group. Catchment management deals with the management of the geographic area of a river and all its streams and tributaries that drain or flow into that river system. The group will include representatives of the ACT and the surrounding region, namely the local government areas of New South Wales. The group has an advisory function, and will assist on a coordinated basis catchment management in the ACT and the streams that flow into and out of the ACT and therefore surrounding New South Wales. Under the bill the capital water catchment region means the region made up of areas within the boundaries of the following councils: Cooma-Monaro Shire Council, Palerang Council, Queanbeyan City Council and Yass Valley local government area.

As I mentioned earlier, I would like to express some concerns about the new sections 67E and F, which give the minister absolute discretion in appointing a representative of the community’s interests in water catchment management, and the chair of the group. While I understand the intention of having this discretion in appointment, the fact that there is no fixed term of appointment may give the minister the opportunity to remove from the group people who express dissenting opinions. I hope that this arrangement will not detract from the transparency or impartiality of the group.

The opposition support coordinated catchment management in the ACT and streams that flow into and out of the ACT, and therefore the surrounding New South Wales region. Ensuring we have clean and healthy waterways for future generations of Canberrans is essential, and we will be supporting this bill today.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.54): I welcome the debate on this bill in the Assembly today. I am passionate about the health of our waterways and have worked on raising the profile of the issue of water quality in our lakes for some years. I remember first discussing it in my office with my staff back in 2009-10, a time when the political debate was very much focused on water quantity issues and the building of a certain dam but when it was becoming obvious to us that water quality was starting to impact on the lives of people in the ACT.

The first place of obvious concern was Lake Burley Griffin, as we were facing lake closures on a regular basis. Events on the lake were being cancelled, and even recreational kayakers were being warned off as algae warnings were a regular

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video