Moss Rocks

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation a question regarding moss rocks.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As the minister would know, I wrote to him in September last year regarding the potential environmental damage from moss rock harvesting, and requested that he investigate the specific threats their removal poses to parts of the South Australian environment which serve as a habitat for flora and fauna, including native and rare species protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. I note that under the South Australian Mining Act moss rocks are classified as a mineral, and are harvested from bushland by landscaping companies.

The act states that minerals taken from mining land that are intended for sale or commercial use are subject to royalties to the minister (of mining, I assume). I understand that no royalties are currently being collected and no processes are being undertaken to determine their sustainable sourcing and responsible use. I thank the minister for replying to me stating that moss rocks warrant better management and that the government is exploring a range of measures, including educative and industry regulatory mechanisms. My questions are:

1.Can the minister provide an update on whether DEWNR and the Department of State Development's investigations have yielded any results?

2.Has the minister considered or drafted any amendments to particular legislation in relation to this matter?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 16:04 :24 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important question. I do remember, back in the dim and distant past of last year, correspondence from the honourable member on the issue of moss rocks. I did task my department to provide me with information so that I could reply to the honourable member.

Indeed, in recent decades, as I understand it, the issue of moss rock removal from certain locations around the state, particularly on the Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula, has been a problem which the department has been grappling with. I am also told that in recent years the fad for this garden ornament has been reducing significantly and that the removal of moss rocks has not been the issue that it has been in decades past. The question, therefore, is whether in fact it is an issue that deserves diverting government resources into investigating.

It is one that I have asked DEWNR to keep on the radar and to report back to me on when they have more advice from the industry—I am talking about the gardening industry in particular in this regard, or garden supplies—about whether in fact they do see it as a problem at the moment. My most recent advice has been, from memory, that the issue of moss rock removal has not been a significant problem in recent years because of changing garden fashions. I will undertake to keep a watching brief on it, and when I have further information to hand from my department I will advise the honourable member, probably by letter.