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Wednesday, 8 December 2004
Page: 31

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (11:45 AM) —It meant exactly what I said. I think the Prime Minister's bona fides are represented by the fact that within a few weeks of his making that statement we are here with a substantial piece of legislation to set up a new National Water Commission. That supports a historic agreement between the states, the territories and the Commonwealth on how Australia deals with water and sets up a uniform national trading and pricing system. It is a historic addressing of the fact that we have had overallocations and that we are trying to get some very serious reform. The Prime Minister has supported this entire process with his own personal commitment to getting some projects going. We have already had brought to our attention proposals for projects and on the face of them—to a non-expert and a politician, as I am—they look like terrific projects to treat effluent, to stop effluent going into ocean outfalls and to reuse effluent for watering parks, gardens, tennis courts and golf courses instead of sucking water out of the Murray and using potable water for those things. Those are the sorts of projects I have seen.

I am a politician who is attracted to the concept of not flushing potable water out into the ocean after it has been used to flush sewage. I am naturally attracted to that concept. I am naturally attracted to the concept of stopping sewage going into our oceans and into ocean outfalls. I am naturally attracted to projects that use water more wisely, and I am very attracted to using this $2 billion investment from the Commonwealth to do so. But what we are discussing here is an expert process. Commissioners who are experts in this field will have sensible processes to analyse which are the best projects and which are the best investments to achieve the best outcomes for Australia. That is how the support of projects will be determined. That is a sensible process. I commend the Prime Minister on his initiative.