I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation on the subject of property at Hanson Bay on Kangaroo Island.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I understand that in October last year the state government spent some $1.8 million buying property at Hanson Bay on Kangaroo Island. My questions are:
1.Can the government explain the rationale behind the purchase of this property?
2.Can the minister explain the due diligence which was undertaken by the government in determining that this was an effective use of funds?
3.Did the government consider that the $1.8 million may have been better spent on the River Murray or numerous other essential environment programs which have been slashed by this government?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:59): I thank the honourable member for her most important question on the subject of the Hanson Bay property purchase. I am not aware of the details of any such purchase. I will undertake to investigate the matter and bring back a response at my earliest convenience.
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation):
As the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation I have received this advice:
1. The purchase of land at Hanson Bay, Kangaroo Island, is a significant and strategic addition to the State's reserve system.
This land is an extraordinary piece of land that sits between two major parks—Flinders Chase National Park and Kelly Hill Conservation Park. The land is largely undisturbed and intact mallee and coastal heath vegetation that provides habitat for a range of threatened species. The purchase capitalised on a rare opportunity to create a continuous coastal conservation corridor for the south western end of the island. The property will also provide potential opportunities for recreation and tourism, supporting opportunities for businesses from small operators through to the adjoining Southern Ocean Lodge at Hanson Bay.
2. The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources obtained independent professional advice on the market value of the land. This valuation was used as the basis for negotiations between the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources and the vendor. Once the terms of a sale had been agreed, the department sought my predecessor's approval to proceed with the purchase.
The government approved the purchase as a strategic investment for conservation on the Island and securing the future potential of this iconic tourism region.
3. The purchase of the land at Hanson Bay was funded through the sale of surplus Crown land parcels. The funding of the purchase has not impacted on any other environmental programmes and is a one-off strategic capital investment.