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 third-party access to the SA Water network.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: A document, 'Access to water and sewerage infrastructure', was published by the Department of Treasury and Finance in February this year which anticipates that third-party access may lead to greater competition for non-household water users. ESCOSA's submission to Treasury and Finance indicated that it was looking for 'a strong, comprehensive and effective state-based access regime' in order to fulfil the objects of the Water Industry Act. It clearly indicates in its submission that it does not believe that the draft report goes far enough.
The report indicated that, once submissions closed on 15 March this year, the government was to draft a bill to be released 'by mid-2013 for further public consultation' and it is expected to be introduced to parliament in September 2013. Where is the draft bill and, if it has not been drafted, when will we see it?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:26): On Friday 1 February, I published a report on third-party access to water and sewerage infrastructure. The report was published in accordance with section 26 of the Water Industry Act 2012. The report was also required to be tabled in parliament. The report summarises the current status of third-party access to water and sewerage infrastructure and examines a number of options for access regimes in this state.
The options include: maintaining the status quo, that is, access seekers may seek a determination for access under the commonwealth Competition and Consumer Act 2012; the making of a ministerial direction to SA Water requiring SA Water to publish protocols regarding third-party access to its infrastructure, which would operate under the commonwealth act; the possibility of voluntary undertakings under the National Access Regime, which would involve water infrastructure owners giving a voluntary undertaking under the commonwealth act; and I advise the creation of a state-based legislative access regime.
The report is intended to facilitate consultation with industry participants and interested community members on the options for third-party access to water and sewerage infrastructure services. The closing date for submissions, as the honourable member said, was Friday 15 March. I am advised that submissions are currently being reviewed so that we can find the best option for third-party access in consultation with our communities of interest.
Once the best option for third-party access has been identified to me, I will then take that proposal through to government and prepare a draft bill, which should be released for public consultation. It was our intention to have that draft bill ready very soon, but at this stage I cannot give a timetable for its release.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:28): A supplementary question: does the minister anticipate that a draft bill will be available by the end of the year?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:28): I refer the honourable member to the original answer; that is the best I can give her.