I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Environment and Conservation a question about the Landscape Futures project.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Scientists have indicated that they wish to have more control over the decision-making of the natural resource management boards, and I cite one Professor Meyer who says that in many ways some of the local boards do not understand some of the greater priorities and that therefore some projects that are provided with scarce resources are actually not the right priorities. Last month it was reported that a watering project for river red gums on the Chowilla flood plain had actually failed. My questions are:
1. Can the minister advise whether this particular project was part of the Landscape Futures project?
2. What other projects fall within initiatives that have not been successful?
The Hon. R.P. Wortley interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: I call the Minister for Environment and Conservation—without the help of the Hon. Mr Wortley!
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Environment and Conservation, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Minister Assisting the Minister for Health) (14:32): I thank the honourable member for her question. Although not a great deal of detail was given, I gleaned from the information provided by the honourable member that the Chowilla watering project she referred to was part of a River Murray initiative that provided environmental flows to, I think, six of our iconic sites. It is a project that is actually run through the Minister for the River Murray, the Hon. Karlene Maywald. As I said, from the information the honourable member gave I believe that is the project to which she was referring.
The Murray-Darling Water Commission gave priority to watering six sites in the last round. It has been providing these environmental flows periodically for some time now, and I understand this particular site had been watered previously a number of years ago.
As I said, it is not my portfolio responsibility, but from what I can recollect it had been watered previously and was identified as a site for rewatering. The site contains a very important group of our river red gums, which are under considerable stress at the moment, and is an area that is particularly environmentally important. I absolutely challenge the assertion made by the honourable member that the project failed: I do not believe that was so at all. However, as I have said, it is not my portfolio responsibility. I understand there were some project challenges, but a good part of the water was delivered as planned—that is, if it is the project I mentioned. However, I am happy to obtain further details from the honourable member so that I am very clear about the exact water project to which she referred, and I will be happy to bring back a response.
Tuesday 3 February 2009
In reply to the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (4 June 2008).
The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Mineral Resources Development, Minister for Urban Development and Planning, Minister for Small Business): The Minister for Water Security has provided the following information:
The Lower Murray Landscape Futures project was a planning initiative developed in 2004 to analyse the impact of natural resource management actions and future land use options in the Lower River Murray. This project was concluded in 2007.
The environmental watering program on Chowilla floodplain is conducted as part of the Living Murray Initiative, which is not part of The Lower Murray Landscapes Project.
The watering program has been implemented at Chowilla since 2004 with significant benefits recorded for the floodplain and wetland flora and fauna at the 24 sites watered since that time. The Chowilla watering program should be regarded as a considerable success and is vitally important to the long term future of the Chowilla Floodplain Icon Site.