This speech is in relation to pumping water from the River Murray.
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: And the bureau was projecting it would rain in the Adelaide Hills.
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: We will come to that. The furphies that are being put about by the
Liberal Party are absolutely unbelievable. You would think this mob would know a little bit more, but
they don't. We will come to that in a minute. SA Water only pumps enough water from the River
Murray as is needed to supply their customers. This is also within the River Murray metropolitan
licence. SA Water protects affordability by using lowest cost sources of water first and regularly
reviews available resources to ensure they have an understanding of how water levels in the
reservoirs are increasing from natural inflows.
For context, natural inflow into the western Mount Lofty Ranges reservoirs was extremely
low in 2015-16, I am advised, with inflow comparable to the last big drought in 2008-09, and less
than half of the 10-year average. At the beginning of July this year, Mount Bold Reservoir was at
53 per cent capacity. All pumping from the River Murray into the reservoir finished in late June.
Taking into account usual seasonal forecasts, this ensured a secure level, with space available for
inflows from rain over the winter and spring months. If SA Water had not pumped water into Mount Bold throughout autumn and into June this year, the reservoir would have dropped dangerously to very low levels and we may not have been able to supply drinking water to the residents of the southern suburbs of Adelaide. We must pump
enough water every month to supply the drinking requirements of the area that is supplied by that
particular catchment. In June this year, I am advised a minimal amount of water was actually pumped into the
reservoir, with the majority of water pumped during March, April and May, when it was incredibly dry.
At this time the Bureau of Meteorology was still only predicting a 55 to 60 per cent chance of a wetter
than average winter in southern Australia. Finally, as a last blow to the nonsense arguments that those opposite have made about pumping water from the River Murray, the Australian Conservation Foundation, I understand, are on record in one of the major publications as saying, through their representative, Mr Jono La Nauze,
that compared with upstream irrigators—and we are referring of course to New South Wales and
Victoria—Adelaide was in the 'little league' when it came to taking water from the Murray.
Mr La Nauze said:
Even if Adelaide pumped every last drop it's entitled to, that would add up to about 1 per cent of water taken
from the Murray-Darling Basin.
Let's not listen to this nonsense from the Liberals in the other place. Let's put to bed this idiotic notion
that there was some sort of report that said we were going to get a massive rainfall this year, the
idiotic notion that they are peddling over there—badly informed. Let me put out a couple of
statements: the idiots in the Liberal party that the Hon. Michelle Lensink takes her advice from (she
should know better now) are wrong every single time.
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: What, the Bureau of Meteorology?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: The idiots in the Liberal Party. Let me refer to an Advertiser article
of 18 January 2016, in which SA Water said:
We will pump more water from the River Murray to cope with high water demand.
That was on 18 January, in The Advertiser, putting it out there—high demand means we will pump
more water from the River Murray. Here we have, on 25 May, the ABC reporting:
El Nino over, BoM says, so winter rain could be on the way.
It was updated on Wednesday 25 May 2016:
Forecaster Michael Knepp said conditions were back to neutral and the bureau was now on La Nina
watch…'There's is a greater than 50 per cent chance that we might be in La Nina conditions later in the year,' Mr Knepp
'That's not a certain thing, just something to keep an eye on over the next few months.'
That was in May.
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: They don't like it over there, the Liberals. They fabricate a reality
of their own and try to peddle it to the media. The facts are very different and a little bit of research
would have given it to you.
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: A little bit of research. Here we are in May, and on the ABC system,
the Bureau of Meteorology is saying:
This is not a certain thing, just something to keep an eye on over the next few months.
And under the headline, 'Rainfall deficiency across Australia', it says:
Large areas of South Australia and Western Australia are also experiencing serious rainfall deficiency.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: 'Serious rainfall deficiency'—and just a few weeks before the
rainfall event, on ABC Rural, a report states:
As the south-east pocket of South Australia endures its driest two years on record, water for livestock and
household water has become exceedingly precious.
That is the ABC on 15 September 2016, saying, 'As the south-east pocket of South Australia endures
its driest two years on record'. Then further on, it says:
[We're] running out of water for the garden, running out of water for the house at times—
Ms Wray indicated the family is stressed about their lack of water.
There we go. A little bit of research might have told them that. It continues:
Mr Wray said the lack of rainfall was putting enormous pressure on underground water supplies, a lifeline for
numerous primary industries in the south-east—
because there was no prediction of a wetter than average year back in those early months when we
had to pump water.
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: Rubbish! It's all on the bureau's website. Check my Twitter
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: The Hon. Michelle Lensink wouldn't know what she is talking about
because I have just read into the record contemporaneous media reports of the time of the sort of
weather we were dealing with. It is unsurprising that they actually don't get with the facts. After all,
this is the mob that went out after we had a massive storm and said that renewable energy was to
blame for the blackout in this state. They said renewable energy was to blame, not the storm. This
week the Bureau of Meteorology, which the Hon. Michelle Lensink was quoting a little while ago, in
the Australian Financial Review of 15 November said:
South Australia was hit by a string of seven tornadoes and wind gusts of up to 260 kilometres an hour in the
September super-storm that crippled the electricity network and plunged the state into darkness according to a report
by the Bureau of Meteorology.
The Hon. Michelle Lensink, you can't pick and choose which bits of the Bureau of Meteorology
reports you want to rely on.
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Michelle Lensink, you should be out there looking at all the reports
over the whole year. When we are in dry times we will pump water out of the River Murray to satisfy
the needs of South Australian water customers, just like they did in your day when you—the Liberals,
I mean—were in government.
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: Can you tell me what that desalination plant is doing?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: The desalination plant is producing 10 per cent of its capacity right
now and plugging it into the water system, saving the River Murray huge amounts of water that
otherwise would have to come out of the River Murray. That is the great thing about the desal plant
running at 10 per cent capacity: it removes that pressure on the Murray because that is flowing
straight into our pipe system. The Liberals opposite—and I don't blame the Liberals in this chamber;
they are just reflecting the rubbish that is passed up to them from the place below us—