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Thursday, 13 March 2008
Page: 1780


Dr SOUTHCOTT (4:39 PM) —I would like to use the adjournment debate to present a petition which was signed by over 7,000 people six months ago. This petition addressed water security in South Australia. What I have found is that the security of Adelaide’s water supply is probably the No. 1 issue concerning people. When this petition went out, there were water restrictions which did not allow people to use nozzles on hoses. All they were allowed to use was a bucket. The state government had no plan then, other than to increase the capacity of the Mount Bold Reservoir. As I said, we collected over 7,000 signatures from residents who were concerned about the lack of action from the South Australian government. The petition calls on the South Australian government to review its current approach to water restrictions, which appear to hurt domestic users of water, and to do the necessary work to secure Adelaide’s water supply. It calls on the South Australian government to consider its priorities, which see it investing scarce taxpayer dollars in the extension of the tramline from Victoria Square in the city rather than in building infrastructure needed to secure Adelaide’s water supply. It also calls on the state government to take seriously the need to secure Adelaide’s water supply rather than seek to blame the Australian government for an area of state government responsibility.

Since this petition went out, I am pleased to say that the state government has slowly acted. The water restrictions are more reasonable, but they do focus on the method of watering rather than the amount of water used. We see that the allocations for irrigators have increased, but they are still only 32 per cent. When you look at South Australia, you see that Lake Alexandrina, the Coorong, the River Murray—all of these environments—are under threat. There are beaches exposed which have never been exposed. What were previously wetlands are now salt pans. In Adelaide, people’s gardens are dying. It is appropriate, if regrettable, that we are in the longest heatwave—a heatwave which has now broken all records in terms of the number of days over 35 degrees Celsius, a heatwave which is the longest experienced by any capital city in Australia—at the time I present this petition calling for action.

It is worth noting that, when the government changed on 24 November, the $10 billion National Plan for Water Security was 90 per cent complete. It had been signed up to by South Australia, New South Wales, the Commonwealth and Queensland. All that was required was for Victoria to sign up. In the more than 100 days of the new government, we have seen no action on this. There have been meetings and there has been an agreement to have further meetings, but really we cannot afford more lack of action in this area. We cannot afford to waste more time. As I said, addressing the security of Adelaide’s water supply is the No. 1 priority now for my constituents. It is at the top of everyone’s minds.

I am pleased that we now have the Standing Committee on Petitions; this petition, which has been signed by over 7,000 people, will now go through to that committee. This is a test for the petitions committee to see if they act on this very important concern of my constituents. I hereby present the petition.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms AE Burke)—The member for Boothby has tabled a petition. The document will be forwarded to the Standing Committee on Petitions for its consideration and will be accepted, subject to confirmation by the committee that it conforms with standing orders.