Page 70 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 December 2016

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

lower Cotter catchment focused our attention on the importance of delivering effective and integrated land management for this unique water catchment area.

I say “unique” for two reasons: firstly, this part of the Cotter catchment has assumed heightened importance since the completion of the enlarged Cotter Dam. The enlarged dam has activated almost 20,000 hectares of land as water catchment, and the new dam impoundment now accounts for 25 per cent of the territory’s storage capacity. Secondly, the area of the Cotter catchment we describe as the lower Cotter catchment is made up of 6,350 hectares of recovering landscape. Previously under the pine plantation, the 2003 fires razed the area to the ground, and recovery has been slower than that seen in the other high country water catchments made up predominantly of native vegetation, which, of course, recovers more rapidly after fire.

It is a matter of public record that government has accepted every one of the Auditor-General’s twelve recommendations. Turning to the committee report, I note it acknowledges that good cooperation across government agencies has seen the delivery or part delivery of a number of important management objectives for the lower Cotter catchment. Furthermore, the committee report notes the significant government commitment to resourcing management efforts in the lower Cotter catchment through the significant appropriation made in the 2015-16 budget, which total $7.8 million over four years.

This new money has already commenced to make a real difference to the condition of the lower Cotter catchment, with work completed on closing down redundant management trails and also improving the condition of other trails to provide strategic firefighting advantage. Failing sediment control structures have been mapped and prioritised for repair, and pine wildlings have begun to be removed from areas in and around the Blue Range section of the catchment.

I am also pleased the committee report credits the creation of a single conservation agency within the Environment, Planning, and Sustainable Development Directorate as serving to improve the management focus on the lower Cotter catchment by bringing together policy, planning, and operational capacity within one agency. But much more needs to be done to secure the ongoing stability of the lower Cotter catchment as a source of reliable, quality water for all Canberrans.

Under the oversight of the director-general’s water group, the management agencies in EPSDD, the Emergency Services Agency, and Icon Water have established a lower Cotter catchment working group which has been rolling out the operational response to the Auditor-General’s report. I will be providing a detailed update for the Assembly of the work achieved to date in the lower Cotter catchment in early 2017.

Turning to the committee report recommendations, of which there are seven, I can report that government agrees with five recommendations, partly agrees with one, and notes one other recommendation. Government notes the committee report’s first recommendation which calls on government to implement a sustainable funding model for the management of the lower Cotter catchment and that this should be outlined in the plan of management for the lower Cotter catchment of which, I might add, a draft version will be soon publicly available for comment.

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