The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:25 :15 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation a question about Ceduna Waters.
The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: I have a copy of some correspondence directed to the minister on 8 January this year from Mr Dennis Blackham, the chairperson of the Residents of Ceduna Waters Incorporated. As the minister would be aware, I think there have been some ongoing issues with this particular development, and also the minister would be aware that there is some legal action between the developer and the crown. However, I will not read the entire letter, but in the second paragraph Mr Blackham suggests that:
During discussions about this particular section of land—
which is the Ceduna Waters land—
Ms Detmar stated that she had in her possession images that unequivocally supported her belief that this site was not farmland with drift sand accumulating along some sections of the cliff top.
Further on in that paragraph, the letter states:
As a result of that discussion you [the minister] directed Ms Detmar to send a copy of those images to the Residents of Ceduna Waters Inc., so that we could view them.
He goes on in the next paragraph:
I write now to advise you that since that meeting some six weeks ago, the images have not been received.
I checked with Mr Blackham this morning, and now 10 weeks later those images have not been received. He then goes on—and there is a lengthy discussion around some of the issues, which I will not go into—but in the final paragraph he said:
Minister Hunter, at our meeting at the Country Cabinet on Sunday 23 November 2014, you stated that the court matter needs to proceed so that the government 'did not lose face'. From this comment I put it to you that protecting the 'integrity' of the government department seems to be deemed a higher priority than the detrimental impact on the residents of Ceduna Waters of the decisions that the Coast Protection Board continues to make.
My questions to the minister are:
1.Why have the images referred to by Ms Detmar not been provided to the Residents of Ceduna Waters as directed by you as minister for her to do so?
2.Given that the developer has spent in excess of $1 million in legal fees (and I assume the Crown similar), is it an appropriate use of taxpayers' monies to continue with legal action so that, in your words minister, the government did not lose face?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:28 :00 ): I thank the honourable member for his most important question. However, I reject outright any view that he is trying to put to this chamber about what my phraseology would have been when I met with Residents of Ceduna Waters. I say to him that I have absolutely no recollection of using such language at all. I did, of course, meet with residents. I will not be saying very much to this chamber in terms of the details whilst legal action may be afoot, but I have said to the department that I wanted to—
The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: You wouldn't have been happy about that, being that far away from Adelaide.
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Well, I met with residents in front of a departmental staffer and staff of mine, so I am pretty sure that we can have the recollections brought back to my attention. But I said to the department that I wanted a fresh look at the processes involved, and that I wanted the department to work with the local residents, as I think is appropriate, to address their concerns, but, as I said, there is legal action afoot and it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on that matter until that is resolved.
The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:29 :00 ): Supplementary question: can the minister explain why the images referred to by Ms Detmar, and directed by you to be provided to the residents, have not been provided some 10 weeks after you directed her to do so?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:29 :05 ): I am not going to take the honourable leader's word for that. I do not know whether or not that is the case. I will obviously speak to my department once again on this matter and follow that up. But we know, from time immemorial in this place, that accusations and allegations made from that side turn out to be baseless, and I would not put much faith in the claims of the honourable Leader of the Opposition in this place.