Michelle Lensink

Water Industry Alliance

A 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 the Water Industry Alliance program.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:20): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Regional Development questions regarding the Water Industry Alliance program.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In estimates earlier this week the member for Chaffey asked the Minister for Environment about the guidelines for irrigators to access the $265 million allocated to the Water Industry Alliance program. The minister advised that that falls under minister Gago's responsibilities, so I ask the minister: can she advise the chamber whether those guidelines have been finalised? If so, when will they be made publicly available?

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) (14:21): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions. Indeed, honourable members would be aware that a historic signing of the IGA recently occurred with the South Australian government involving the Murray-Darling Basin river plan. The signing of that IGA is incredibly important for us to be able to proceed with finalising the details of that $265 million that has been committed to our Murray-Darling Basin program.

On Wednesday 26 June, a letter was received from Tony Burke, Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Water, confirming arrangements for the $265 million program. The letter, I understand, confirmed that the commonwealth will fund the South Australian River Murray communities to the tune of $265 million, including $240 million for the Water Industry Alliance South Australian River Murray Improvements Program that aims to return 40 gigalitres of water to the environment and provide opportunities for the reconfiguration and renewal of the South Australian River Murray irrigation industry, and $25 million for the South Australian regional economic development initiatives.

The letter sought agreement on a number of terms and conditions to be formalised in the form of national partnership agreements. I am advised that the terms and conditions specified in the letter were reasonable and enabled the outcomes sought by the state, the Water Industry Alliance and the River Murray irrigation industry and its communities to be realised through the implementation of the program.

To confirm arrangements set out in the terms and conditions to the national partnership agreement, minister Burke sought the state to sign the intergovernmental agreement, and on 27 June the Premier signed that. This confirms South Australia's commitment to implementing the historic basin plan reforms and also it confirmed arrangements to secure the $265 million of the sustainability program. Therefore, the signing of the IGA on the basin plan has resulted in South Australia's realisation of a historic win for the river through a stance based on robust science and an uncompromising Fight for the Murray campaign which resulted in an increase in the volume of water to be returned to the river by 450 gigalitres. We know that the Liberal opposition were prepared to sell us out down the river.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: They were. They wanted to sell us out down the river, sell us short. Anyway, it was the Labor government that stood its ground and fought for the river, and now we see the benefits of this, not just in terms of the additional water but also in terms of this incredible set of program initiatives to the tune of $265 million that will also provide significant industry development to our Murray Darling Basin region.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:25): By way of supplementary question, I asked about guidelines for irrigators. Does the minister have a response on that?

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) (14:26): I am happy to take that question on notice and bring back a response. I am not sure what work is being done on that, but I know that we are still negotiating with the commonwealth government in terms of finalising details, but I am happy to take it on notice and bring what details are available back to the chamber at the earliest possible time.

 

 

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