Environment—Lake Tuggeranong—petitions Nos 11-14 and 14-14
MS LAWDER (Brindabella), by leave: For as long as I can remember, we have had problems with the water quality in Lake Tuggeranong, problems with the lake's closure and the blue-green algae; it is all too familiar for Tuggeranong residents. For years the residents of Tuggeranong, who would like to be able to enjoy the amenity of their lake, have not been able to do so.
Today I would like to speak to this petition which has over 3,000 signatures—signatures that show how much these issues matter to the residents of Tuggeranong and to the wider Canberra community. It is not just people who live nearby. It is people who work in the town centre, go to school near the lake or just enjoy using the lake. Over 3,000 people are calling on the government to address this issue now. This was a promise at the last election and it makes up part of the Labor agreement with the Greens. But every man and his dog who would also like to walk around the lake can see and smell that action has not yet been taken. Over 3,000 people want this government to go ahead with what they have already promised. The Labor-Greens agreement states, at item 3.11(a):
Construction of four new wetlands to improve water quality at Tuggeranong (2), Yarralumla and Ginninderra by June 2016 ...
The agreement does not say "work on a proposal by 2016", "start in 2016", or "continue with monitoring", as that has already been going on for years. The agreement refers to the construction of two wetlands in Tuggeranong by 2016. It is now August 2014 and nothing has been started in Tuggeranong except more monitoring.
The petition, which has been driven by the Tuggeranong lake carers group, calls on the government to take immediate action to clean up Lake Tuggeranong and fulfil their election promise to build wetlands in the Tuggeranong valley, which will help to improve the quality of water flowing into the lake. There are two parts to this: the immediate action of cleaning up the lake; and the long-term solution of creating wetlands. And they need to start now.
As a member for Brindabella and a resident of Tuggeranong for the last 26 years, I understand the need for action in this area, and I am happy to stand with and for the residents of Tuggeranong who are petitioning our Assembly today.
If you look back at this issue 10 or 20 years ago, you can see that not a lot has changed. For example, on 5 March 1994 a Canberra Times article said, "Warning
over algae." A few weeks later there was a letter to the editor written by a 13-year-old student in which the student described the lake by saying, "I think it stinks." That was in 1994. Twenty years later, where are we?
If these articles were posted in today's paper, no-one would think twice, because we have seen this headline so often that we are almost immune to it, and that is very sad. We have the same issue now as we had then. We have headlines like, "Tuggeranong groups cry foul over stench coming from their lake." We have community council newsletters entitled, "Our blooming sick Lake Tuggeranong." It is an issue close to Tuggeranong residents, community groups and businesses in the town centre, and it is an issue we need to address now. One water scientist made it clear when he stated:
Canberra's network of concrete channels carrying stormwater to the city's lakes are a planning tragedy, largely responsible for growing summer stench along the foreshores.
Wetlands could help to address this issue and alleviate this problem. They would filter the water which runs into our lake and ensure that the water quality is drastically improved, and our residents know that. For the Tuggeranong town centre, the lake should be the centrepiece of the area where people can enjoy the parks and the grass, spaces for exercise and picnics, a place where students from Lake Tuggeranong College can take part in their studies without getting headaches from the stink. It should be a beautiful and peaceful place.
The residents of Tuggeranong that I speak to every day do not understand why we are happy to throw away millions of dollars on a train set, but when it comes to our lakes and waterways we pass the buck and blame the federal government for not giving us the funding. I support this petition today, and I encourage the government to do the same.