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Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Page: 3999


Senator HANSON-YOUNG (2:29 PM) —My question today is to the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Wong. Minister, of course, as a South Australian senator, you are aware of the dire state of South Australia’s Lower Lakes. During the negotiations and debate over the stimulus package back in February this year, $10 million for a bioremediation program was agreed to by the government as part of the Nation Building and Jobs Plan. Could the minister please update the chamber on where we are up to in implementing this program?


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —Thank you, Senator Hanson-Young. My recollection is you raised this previously with my office and I understood they had indicated to you the status of that program. I will see if I can get further details. As you will recall, this bioremediation assistance was in addition to extant—although I cannot recall if they actually had started or not—plans by the South Australian government to put in place a bioremediation strategy in the Lower Lakes. In relation to the specific Commonwealth component, I will get the detailed information about that so I can give you a full answer on that issue.


Senator HANSON-YOUNG —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Thank you, Minister. My recollection is that we have met, but I have not heard anything further from the meeting, which was several months ago. That is the reason that I am asking for the questions to be taken on notice now. Given that this was part of the Nation Building and Jobs Plan and was written up as so in the budget, where are we up to and where are the jobs that were promised for the communities on the Lower Lakes?


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —You might recall there were a range of commitments given to the crossbenchers in the context of the Nation Building and Jobs Plan, negotiations which the government was quite willing to undertake with the crossbenchers but, let us remember, was required to because those opposite refused to support the package—yet again the ‘just say no’ tactics from the opposition. There were a range of propositions agreed with your party and there were a range of propositions agreed with Senator Xenophon, and some of those have already been announced. You might recall I have already announced stormwater funding, which was part of the discussions with Senator Xenophon. There are a range of other matters not in my portfolio that were also announced that the Treasurer agreed with the Greens. I am not sure really to what issue your question goes. We will continue to—(Time expired)


Senator HANSON-YOUNG —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I thought I was pretty clear, but I will spell it out again. Part of the agreement was that the bioremediation program would be part of the jobs plan for that region. What I am asking is: where are those jobs and when will the minister make an announcement about where we are up to?


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —And I said in relation to the $10 million—and I recall that there have been a range of discussions about this—I would come back to you with detailed information about that. It would have been very easy for you to pick up the phone and ask me this. I would have been very happy to provide you with the information, just as I have with Senator Xenophon when he has asked my office about the implementation of this package. As I said to you, I am happy to get further information and provide it to you.