A supplementary question put forward to the Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) regarding SA Water and the Regional Development Fund.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:43): I have a supplementary question. When the minister was in the region, did the Clare Region Winegrape Growers Association raise the issue of the exorbitant prices they are being forced to pay through SA Water?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:43): Yes. I visit the Clare region regularly, and I am well aware—
The Hon. S.G. Wade: You're up there all the time.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I am there regularly. I am very well aware of the water issues endured by the Clare district. They have raised that issue with me and, I understand, the Minister for Water as well. It has been a protracted issue. Its origins are quite complex, being due to the fracturing of the local aquifer and the overplanting of grapes beyond their water supply, and that has resulted in quite a glut there, as well. There have been some problems with planning.
There have been negotiations with SA Water to date to provide pricing of water at a discounted price, if you like, and those negotiations continue. The group did a presentation at my agribusiness council recently—not the last meeting but the one before that. It went through the issue. There was considerable discussion about moving forward, and a number of ideas were put on the table in terms of how further discussions and consideration could be done to progress this, including the building of additional storage dams in the area and a number of other applications as well. So again, work continues to be done in that space to try to assist that region.
The Clare Valley is an absolutely magnificent region and it is looking absolutely spectacular at this time of the year. It produces some of South Australia's finest wines and it has done some very clever marketing of itself to provide a clear, distinctive marketing niche for itself. A lot of really wonderful things have been done by winegrowers, their wine representative bodies and local councils to place that region at its greatest competitive advantage. They should be congratulated. I am sure that with all the assistance that has been given and the consideration behind it, we will hopefully find a way through their long-term water problems.