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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 August 2015) . . Page.. 2262 ..

occurrence. We met with the NCA and discussed at some length what options they thought were available to them, and we met with water experts and were told that the issues were long term, systemic, and required multifaceted and cross-jurisdictional cooperation. It was not just what was going into the lake from both industrial and residential premises on a regular basis; it was what had already settled into the bottom of the lake over many decades of nutrient-rich inflows. None of the solutions were cheap or easy, and few of them were guaranteed. Some were mooted technological quick fixes. All of the solutions required the coordination of people across jurisdictions and across interest areas.

In 2011 I initiated an independent inquiry into the health of ACT lakes through a motion in the Assembly, and the environment commissioner’s lakes inquiry was started, focusing on but not exclusively looking at Lake Burley Griffin. The terms of reference focused on investigating the state of the watercourses and catchments for Lake Burley Griffin, including possible improvements for managing water quality and the appropriateness of the current protocols for lake closures; identifying the causes of lower water quality, including possible resource implications of addressing them; jurisdictional implications for water quality management of the lake; and the implication of these findings for the ACT’s other major recreational waterways such as Lake Ginninderra and Lake Tuggeranong.

Some of the key recommendations that came out of that report focused on governance for the lake, acknowledging that governance arrangements needed to include the ACT government, the New South Wales government, Queanbeyan and the federal government through the National Capital Authority. The recommendation called for a catchment management agreement that outlined strategic objectives for the integrated and coordinated management of the lake and catchments, but acknowledged the challenges of the multi-jurisdictional catchment management and the lack of clarity about who was responsible and who needed to be consulted.

The ACT Greens took a policy to the ACT election on the health of our waterways, and in this we extended our focus to other lakes in the ACT—indeed, shifting our focus to the catchment itself and calling on the ACT government to access the funds being made available by the federal government to protect the Murray-Darling Basin catchment and improve water quality. This initiative was then included in the Greens-ALP parliamentary agreement.

I commend the environment directorate and Minister Corbell on the work that has been done since that time to secure the funding agreement with the commonwealth and to commence the exciting project that we can now fund through the allocation of these resources—$85 million of federal money with the co-contribution of a further $8.5 million of ACT funds. The terms that have been placed on the funding by the federal government have limited the expenditure to infrastructure projects that will improve the quality of water in the Murray-Darling catchment, but there are more than enough ideas that can be funded through that bucket of money.

The ACT contribution has a little more flexibility about how it can be spent, and already it is being used to support the very important work being undertaken by Waterwatch to do community monitoring of the water quality in the catchment.

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