Michelle Lensink

Save the River Murray Fund - Levy

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Water and the River Murray on the subject of the Save the River Murray levy.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In estimates last year, the minister was asked a question by the member for Flinders in relation to the Save the River Murray levy and whether all the programs that were funded from the levy would be funded at the same rate. The minister replied as follows:

'My understanding is that all the programs will continue. They will just now be funded through consolidated revenue into the future.'

He then corrected that to say 'the right term is appropriation'. My question to the minister is: does he stand by that particular statement?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:19 ): At the point of time that I made that statement, it was entirely correct.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 14:19 ): Further question: does that mean that that is no longer the case?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:19 ): No.

The PRESIDENT: Supplementary, Ms Lensink.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 14:19 ): Goodness me! It looks like a ping-pong match. Could the minister then outline how those particular programs are to be funded into the future, if not through appropriation as he told estimates last year?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:20 ): Again, I thank the honourable member for her most important question, but she would be aware, as would most of us, that programs don't last forever. They are usually time limited. They are to address specific functions or projects. They sometimes entail extra funding from other spheres of government—local government and federal government—and sometimes non-government organisations as well, and that comes to an end as well, because the federal government doesn't give funding for ever and a day either.

At the time when those programs were underway, they were still being funded, but as programs mature and make way for other programs that changes. That is the nature of government funding. That is the nature of programs that have been run out under government funding at a federal and state level for time immemorial. Why would the honourable member think something would change now?

The PRESIDENT: Supplementary, Ms Lensink.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 14:21 ): Given that that is within the same financial year, how can the minister justify saying one thing in estimates in relation to the current financial year and change that in the same financial year?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:21 ): I haven't.

 

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