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Mowing and Water Quality

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank Mr Davis for moving this motion and Ms Lawder for circulating these important amendments.

I realise that the primary focus of this motion is on Lake Tuggeranong, but I rise today as a member for Ginninderra to point out that mowing and water quality are also issues in my electorate. The ACT Government has an education program called H2OK. The slogan for this program, which appears on signage around Canberra, is ‘Only rain down the stormwater drain’.

This plea, however, is a clear instance of this Labor-Greens government once again telling residents to ‘Do what we say, not what we do’. The H2OK website claims that, in order to keep our waterways healthy, it is essential to keep grass clippings out of stormwater drains. I invite each member of this Assembly to visit Ginninderra Drive after we adjourn later today. The knee-high grass on the median strip has finally been mowed, and the gutters are literally filled with clippings. Piles of this grass can be seen working their way down the many dozens of stormwater drains that line the road. With this daily visible reminder, why would anyone in my electorate take the government’s sloganeering seriously?

And this problem is far bigger than the current very visible mess in Ginninderra Drive, with grass clippings from government mowing allowed to enter the stormwater system right across the area. There are currently 17,972 stormwater inlets in my electorate, many of which drain into Ginninerra Creek and/or Lake Ginninderra. Every bit of mown grass that enters this network needlessly adds nutrients that contribute to worsening water quality, and the ACT Government is almost certainly the worst culprit by volume.

Despite this shameless neglect, we in the Belconnen area have actually been reasonably lucky … so far. As University of Canberra Professor of Water Science Dr Fiona Dyer noted on Monday this week, Lake Ginninderra ‘previously had the best water quality of all the lakes’ in Canberra. But this could easily change. I quote Dr Dyer’s dire warning: ‘For me, Ginninderra’s the worry … Everybody has had their eyes on Lake Tuggeranong and Lake Burley Griffin, but haven’t really kept an eye on what’s going on in Ginninderra’, she said. The warning signs are already discernible, however, with more high concentrations of blue-green algae recorded in Lake Ginninderra over the past five years than in any previous five-year period.[1]

Dr Dyer’s recommendation is straightforward: ‘We’ve got to stop nutrients getting into our waterways and flowing into our lakes’.[2] As Ms Lawder’s amendments make clear, it’s time for this Labor-Greens government to finally walk the talk.

Madam Speaker, I commend these amendments to the Assembly. Thank you.

[1] ‘Thoughtful planning can reduce the risk of toxic algal blooms in Lake Ginninerra’, Riotact, 21 Nov. 2022. [2] Ibid.


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