Safe Drinking Water Bill

07 Apr 2011 speecharchive

This speech is in regards to the safe drinking water bill and to indicate support for the bill.

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 24 March 2011.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:30): I will speak briefly to this bill. Clearly, the Liberal Party supported the measures in the House of Assembly and, from my reading of the debate there, the topics were canvassed very well. I note that this bill before us has its origins in the Productivity Commission in around 2000, which stated that these sorts of measures were required, and I would like to thank the minister and his officers for providing me with a briefing.

Indeed, there have been problems in other parts of the world. I understand that this particular bill is necessary from a risk management point of view, not because we have had specific incidents here, although people would be very well aware of the Garibaldi incident which was more of a food safety issue. Indeed, water is considered a food. It is obviously something that we consume. This particular bill will transfer some of the broad requirements from the Food Act into this new set of measures. Its primary aim is to protect drinking water safety.

There are several hundred water providers in South Australia, the largest one being SA Water, and a number of other providers who predominantly source their water from bores and rainwater. They include bed and breakfasts, caravan parks, holiday accommodation and also the Marion Bay Desalination Plant.

The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines are very complex, so a number of these smaller providers were seeking some sort of guidance through legislation which would simplify the matter for them to be able to transfer it into their context. So, there are some basic requirements which are outlined in the bill:

that there be a register of drinking water providers and that there be a number of requirements for each;

that each have a risk management plan, including monitoring and incident plans, which I understand will be a simpler process for smaller providers;

a requirement for auditing and inspection, which may be once every two years—annually for SA Water—using the same inspectorate as is currently used for food, which is environmental health officers, largely through local government;

a requirement to report any results to the Department of Health;

and a requirement for increased transparency in reporting of incidents.

I understand that the Local Government Association and the Bed and Breakfast Association are happy with the ultimate outcome. They requested that there be some exemptions under certain conditions because they thought that some of these provisions may be too onerous. In the briefing I was advised that the testing processes are not particularly expensive, certainly less than $100, and some local government authorities do not actually charge for those inspections. With those brief remarks, I indicate support for the bill.

Debate adjourned on motion of Mr Wade.