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Thursday, 13 October 2011
Page: 11900

Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (09:55): I rise to highlight the kind of issue you would expect to find in the Third World. We have charitable and humanitarian Australian organisations working in various parts of the world to supply safe drinking water to less fortunate citizens. That is how unfortunate the citizens of Bowen must feel in my electorate of Dawson. This North Queensland town was once supposed to be the capital of Queensland, but Brisbane beat it to it. Now it is the capital of filthy, dirty, disgusting and unsafe drinking water. I have with me here a small sample of water from Bowen. This is not some sludge dredged up from a sewer or waste from an industrial site. This is the drinking water that the Whitsunday Regional Council and its mayor, Mike Brunker—who was a Labor candidate in the 2010 election for the electorate of Dawson—are pumping through homes in Bowen. It is not the kind of water that you would want to wash your clothes in, it is not the kind of water that you would want to make a cup of tea with, and it is certainly not the kind of water you would give your kids to drink. This is a sample from a household tap in Bowen.

The owner of the Bowen Village Caravan Park, Mr Russell Cook—who gave me this sample—is deeply concerned about the repeated supply of this disgusting liquid. His customers who have the misfortune to visit during a dirty water event go away with a bad taste in their mouths, whether they drink the water or not. He refers to these incidents as 'dirty water events' in an email to me, and I quote:

A significant "dirty" water event on the 21st September … occurred throughout the day. Samples taken from taps at 5:00am, 8:30am and 4:15pm showed that the drinking water breached the health limits of Australian Drinking Water Standards by 12,980 per cent, 2,720 per cent and 6,680 per cent respectively. All tests were carried out by a reputable NATA certified laboratory.

He goes on to say that the council knew that they were supplying unsafe water, as they rang him the night before to warn him of this event. So the Whitsunday Regional Council and Mayor Mike Brunker are in absolute denial. They claim that the water is not unsafe, just dirty. But it is unsafe. It is very unsafe; the bottle shows that. I would challenge anyone to actually drink that. The fact that they are trying it is reprehensible. I am advised that supplying this water to residents could be in breach of several pieces of legislation in Queensland, so I am writing to the office of water supply to ask that they investigate this matter to see if there have been breaches. The council need to answer for this disgusting water that they are giving residents.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): While Mr Speaker has discouraged the inappropriate use of props, I do not consider that the honourable member for Dawson has breached that ruling when he held up what looks from here to be a half-consumed bottle of Coca-Cola.