I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Water and the River Murray regarding Lake Albert.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 14:56 :55 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before—
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Lensink has the floor.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation—
The PRESIDENT: Hon. Ms Lensink, would you like to sit down? We have an hour for question time. This is an opportunity for the opposition to question the ministers. Don't waste it arguing across the chamber. The Hon. Ms Lensink.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Thank you, Mr President. I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Water and the River Murray regarding Lake Albert.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In December 2012, the government announced a $740,000 scoping study to be undertaken into the future management of water quality in Lake Albert and the Narrung Narrows. The 12-month study was to suggest potential management strategies to sustain water quality and ecological health in Lake Albert and was due to be completed by the end of December 2013. However, I understand that the results of the study are yet to be released publicly. My questions to the minister are:
1.Can he provide an update as to the status of the study and when it will be released?
2.Was the Meningie Narrung Lakes Irrigators Association invited to fully respond to the final scoping study?
3.Does the government have a preferred option for a connector between Lake Albert and the Coorong?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:58 :32 ): I am advised that the scoping study was initially planned to be completed by December 2013. However, delays in receiving modelling results led to a delay in the finalisation of the study. My advice is that the steering committee was supportive of an extension, which ensured a more robust outcome.
An options paper setting out the results of the scoping study was subsequently finalised and endorsed by the Lake Albert Scoping Study Steering Committee on 2 May 2014. The options paper will be submitted for commonwealth approval before the end of the financial year and it is envisaged that the options paper will be publicly released shortly thereafter.
I have no awareness of which individual community organisations were invited to be part of the scoping study but it is my expectation, as relayed to a number of meetings down in the local area and, further, to my department, that all interested people who have a stake in the Lake Albert area, in either the environment or the agricultural benefits of the region (and the water salinity being controlled, therefore), should be heard and given full access to this process.