Michelle Lensink

Environment, Resources And Development Committee: Port Bonython Desalination Plant

This speech is to indicate support for the Environment, Resources And Development Committee: Port Bonython Desalination Plant motion.

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. R.P. Wortley: That the 64th report of the committee, entitled 'Final Report on Desalination (Port Bonython)', be noted.

(Continued from 9 September 2009. Page 3106.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (20:34): I rise to indicate support for this motion. I am very pleased to do so, as the person who moved the original motion to refer the subject of desalination to the Environment, Resources and Development Committee of the parliament. This is our second report, and I believe those reports have been very useful. I think at the time that I moved these motions a few people were a bit curious, given that the Liberal Party had come out first in announcing its support for a desalination plant for Adelaide, about whether this was in any way against desalination. I would like to say at the outset that that is not the case.

However, there are a number of environmental issues related to desalination, particularly as regards the gulfs of South Australia and their unique structure and the fact that they are subject to dodge tides from time to time. There are also issues relating to more saline water that is heavier and can be noxious for the marine life. Further, there are issues relating to the large quantity of energy that is required to produce desalinated water. So, I would like to reiterate what the Liberal Party's position is, acknowledging that it has been stated previously. While we support a 50 gigalitre plant for the City of Adelaide, our next priority in terms of funding relates to stormwater prior to the 100 gigalitres that this government is pursuing.

This report relates to the Point Lowly desalination plant, which is closely located to the breeding ground of the giant cuttlefish. There are also concerns about western king prawn breeding grounds and a number of other fish and marine floral species. I will not speak at length, because the report speaks for itself. Members here and members of the public can also access information from the ERD website in relation to the evidence that has been provided. However, suffice to say that quite a number of scientists of various disciplines were very cautionary in warning about the location of this site.

I feel somewhat vindicated that the EIS—and, indeed, the government's response to the EIS—identifies that there are a large number of issues, and the government's response to BHP Billiton's EIS describes a number of the reports that have been conducted on behalf of BHP Billiton as being inadequate in a number of ways or not addressing the issues. So, I think this is all-important reading for us. I would urge BHP Billiton to address each and every one of those issues.

The committee unanimously agreed that Point Lowly was probably the worst possible site for the location of this plant, and that is based on the evidence that we received. I commend the motion to the council, and I encourage everyone to read the report and the evidence that was provided to us.

Motion carried.

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