Ms DAWKINS question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr ROCKLIFF
After a long, dry summer and one water situation after the next, we are keenly aware of how precious our water resources are to Tasmania. We have seen flash flooding with raw sewage in Launceston streets, regional towns with dangerous levels of lead in their water supply, primary producers having no equity in supply, and even our internationally recognised wetlands being deprived. Do you accept that water governance in Tasmania is in need of review, and that to ensure public health, agriculture and the environment is protected we need to act?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. We will be debating this issue at length at 5 o'clock today and your question is anticipating an order of the day. It has been an extremely challenging summer - in fact pre-summer - for the availability of water. I commend all water authorities across Tasmania, including Tasmanian Irrigation, who have been working alongside our farmers. This is an extraordinary period of dry weather on the back of an extremely dry winter and a record dry spring, notwithstanding the 6‑8 inches of rainfall across the state in January, which was very welcome. It has been a challenging time, particularly for our farmers, and we are not through it. Farmers are still irrigating and it is still warm, which means the grass is still growing. As soon as we get the cooler weather, the irrigation will have a bit more effect.
As a result of the dry weather and the challenging times for our farmers, I have instigated a review of all our irrigation schemes to ensure that they delivered. I am hearing good reports across the state about the capacity and delivery of our irrigation supply, which is most welcome. I was very pleased also to meet with departmental water management officers the other day and organised a function at Mount Pleasant to thank them for the very good work they have done over the summer. I commend them because it must be very challenging turning up to farms and having to ensure farmers are complying with water restrictions. Many farmers across the state lost their surety 5 and 6 water, which put them in a challenging position, although our extreme dry water policy had a very good effect in allowing farmers to obtain water for longer, which carried them through.
Ms O'Connor - You know there are problems.
Mr ROCKLIFF - No-one has presented compelling evidence that there are major problems to fix with water management in this state. I would be very interested in what Ms Dawkins presents today in tabling and speaking to her motion. While this has been the most challenging season for Tasmanians in water management for at least a generation, I commend all the water authorities for the good work they have done. No one has presented any compelling evidence to me as to why we would have a comprehensive review of the nature Ms Dawkins outlined in her motion yesterday. I will be very interested, however, in her contribution.