House debates

Monday, 22 February 2010

Statements by Members

Greenway Electorate: Water

4:25 pm

Photo of Louise MarkusLouise Markus (Greenway, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to bring to the attention of the House the significance of the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury region. Residents and businesses, people who choose to live and/or work in this region, choose to do so because of its environment, because of the significance of the environment, because of the lifestyle. It is important to residents and those who work in this community that the environment and lifestyle that they enjoy is protected. The Hawkesbury-Nepean River runs through my community, along with numerous other rivers and streams that feed into it from the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park. The coalition government has a strong record of protecting and promoting sustainable waterways, including those in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury regions, with up to $132.5 million worth committed in 2007 from the Australian Government Water Fund for a proposal that would have significantly improved the health of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers.

In my community there are many waterways and rivers of vital importance to the community, including the major Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers but also the Macdonald River, the Grose River, the Colo River and of course Wollemi Creek, which feed into them. Flowing down from the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park, there are many other rivers of importance, such as the Coxs River, the Capertee River and Wolgan River, which should never be forgotten, to ensure they too remain sustainable and protected. Whilst Labor have been in government, there have been many offers to other states—for example, $1 billion to the Victorian government. However, we have seen little of this in the Hawkesbury-Nepean and Blue Mountains region.

The Hawkesbury-Nepean River system, which receives inflows from the Blue Mountains rivers, is Sydney’s food bowl and it needs assistance to improve the health of the river. Significant economic activity depends on the catchment. Agriculture in the region has an annual farm gate value of over $1 billion. Eggs, poultry, fresh vegetables, flowers and fruit are supplied to Sydney markets. The rivers also support oyster and prawn farming, extensive horse breeding and a turf industry. All rely on the health of the river. The Hawkesbury-Nepean is a catchment of national significance. It supplies 97 per cent of metropolitan Sydney’s potable water and supports the generation of 70 per cent of Sydney’s income.

The Rudd Labor government needs to acknowledge the commitment provided by the previous, coalition government and ensure that the health of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River is not forgotten. It is imperative that the Labor government consider all significant water systems and take action not only to protect the livelihood of those living in the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains region but also to secure a sustainable future for our environment and water systems. I am also pleased today to confirm to the people of the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains region that the coalition’s—(Time expired)