Michelle Lensink

Desalination Plant

A question put forward to the Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) regarding the desalination plant usage.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:53): I have a supplementary question arising from that delusional answer. Does the minster anticipate that if there were a drought in the future, as severe as the millennium drought, the desalination plant would be required to be used?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:53): The honourable member invites me to gaze into her crystal ball and predict what the environmental conditions will be into the future. As I said, the desalination plant is there as security for our water security into the future. If the conditions require it, the desalination plant will be used. I have been through this before. We will use the cheaper source of water first, but there will come a time when we are faced with an equal, if not worse, drought than we saw early this millennium—in the first 10 years, the first decade—and, of course, we have water security through a desal plant now for Adelaide and for South Australia.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:54): I have another supplementary question. Does the minister believe that if there were very similar or same conditions Riverland irrigators would have their entitlements reduced again, rather than using the desalination plant?

The PRESIDENT: It is seeking your opinion, minister, but—

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:55): Mr President, the honourable member didn't listen to my answer at all. She would have heard, if that was the case, that we are currently working on a plan with the communities about how we would face those triggers into the future. I have said before, and I will say it again for the honourable member's benefit and those opposite, it will depend on the environmental conditions of the day. Those decisions need to be made on that evidence before us.           

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