Water Action Coalition

03 Dec 2009 archivespeech

This speech is to indicate that the Liberal Party support the first two parts of the Water Action Coalition Motion, but cannot agree with the third part of the motion.

Adjourned debate on motion of the Hon. M.C. Parnell: That this council—

1. Notes the formation in South Australia of a Water Action Coalition of community groups and individuals calling for ecologically sustainable water management in this state;

2. Notes the proclamation issued by the Water Action Coalition in a rally on the steps of this parliament on 10 October 2009;

and 3. Agrees with the request made in the proclamation for an urgent public inquiry into water management in South Australia and calls on the government to implement this inquiry without delay. (Continued from 28 October 2009. Page 3741.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:12): This motion has three separate parts. The first two parts we support, but we cannot agree with the third part of the motion. The motion notes the formation of the Water Action Coalition and its proclamation in a rally on the steps of parliament on 10 October this year and, thirdly, seeks to have an urgent public inquiry into water management. We support the first two parts and our water spokesman, Mitch Williams, the member for MacKillop, spoke at that meeting, as did a number of other members of parliament. I also attended the rally to demonstrate some support for the organisations that attended, and there were a great number of them, including people from the Lower Lakes and along various parts of the Murray River, the Save Our Gulf Coalition and a number of other groups, which have a good history in terms of making representations on water management.

Confidential and Subject to Revision The Water Action Coalition itself was launched by Mr John Caldecott on 19 July 2009, and the mission of the WAC is to ensure a sustainable future for South Australia. There are a number of water and conservation organisations, experts and others involved, so it represents a significant cross-section of the community and is a very credible organisation with the number of people who offer their expertise to its cause.

As I stated, the Liberal Party does not necessarily support all the motion, and the coalition has stated that it has been calling for an inquiry with the powers of a royal commission, although it would be interested to have such an inquiry to see whether we can get to the truth of many matters. The person whose comments I am paraphrasing here states: I think the people of South Australia are being misinformed at best, or misled at worst.

The Liberal Party does not agree with that item because we believe that the actions which need to be taken on water management in this state are very clear and that an inquiry will not assist in advancing that matter; in fact, it may slow things down.

We have had a significant drought in South Australia and across the south-eastern part of Australia, most notably in the Murray-Darling Basin, for several years now, which has restricted flows from the Murray-Darling Basin into South Australia. A number of organisations have also published documents, many from academics, and I note that the organisation Business SA has just recently released its publication entitled 'A Greenprint for the Future—Creating a Sustainable South Australia'. The first aspect to that is water, including a number of policy positions that it has in relation to the River Murray, SA Water (including third party access), and references to the commonwealth government taking over the Murray-Darling Basin, which is something we all believe in. We would like to see a genuine takeover rather than this mickey mouse nonsense that all the Labor states and the federal government have adopted.

Indeed, the Liberal Party has been very much on the front foot in terms of water policy. As early as August 2007, with Mitch Williams as our spokesperson, we released a 19-point plan for waterproofing South Australia. We have documents that are available on our website.

The Hon. P. Holloway interjecting:

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: John Howard, I think, had a genuine plan and you guys have just welshed on it.

The Hon. S.G. Wade interjecting:

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Absolutely! It has more guts than Kevin Rudd will ever have.

The Hon. P. Holloway: So, no—the answer is no.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: No, the answer is not no. That is what we had planned. We had $10 billion on the table and your Premier played politics so that the agreement would not be signed. What a cynical thing to do!

The PRESIDENT: Order! Let's just move on.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I am sorry, Mr President. It is out of order for me to respond to interjections but when the government provokes me I just cannot help myself. So, a document is available on our website which has been out for well over two years now, and it is entitled 'Waterproofing South Australia—A Framework for Action'. I think that those actions are well known. As I have said, we support the first two aspects of the motion but not the third and we commend the work of the Water Action Coalition and will continue to support it and its efforts into the future.