WATER ALLOCATION PLANS

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:29 :58 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, and Minister for Water and the River Murray a question about Limestone Coast water licences.

Leave granted.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: Some weeks ago I visited the South-East and met with a couple of drought-affected farmers. I know the government has been down there recently with the country cabinet and I think minister Bignell was talking about all the good things he was going to do for farmers in respect of drought, although I am sure they will be waiting with bated breath to see if he actually delivers. Nonetheless, on this particular occasion I met with a landowner who had a 600‑megalitre water licence valued at around $1,200 a megalitre, so almost three-quarters of a million dollars of asset.

This landowner had applied for a Drought Concessional Loan—and I think one of the conditions that PIRSA puts on these loans is that you have to have 60 per cent equity—and he advised us that he was unable to use the water licence as an asset for that equity calculation. My question to the minister is: is there anything under DEWNR and his responsibility that precludes a licence holder from using their water licence as an asset, especially when securing a Drought Concessional Loan?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:31 :26 ): I thank the honourable member for his question without notice. I can only say at this stage, without getting further advice from my agency, that in some areas, of course, there are controls on how much water can be utilised and traded out of that area.

When we do water allocation plans the whole idea is to break regions down into areas that have been overallocated, for example, where there needs to be action to pull that back, or regions where there may be surplus water that hasn't been allocated or where, for example, the science has given us confidence that their water resource is sustainable into the future and can be allocated with a high degree of confidence about that sustainability.

In terms, therefore, of assets, that's a question really for the bank, and it comes down to whether that water licence is tradeable, if there are any constraints on whether that water can be taken or whether, in fact, the allocation has to be reduced. Without further information about the honourable member's constituent and their business case, I will have to take that on notice and bring back a response.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:32 :26 ): I have a supplementary question. It isn't actually the bank: it's Primary Industries that has said in relation to eligibility for a Drought Concessional Loan that the landowner was not able to use the water licence that was issued by the government of some 1,200 megalitres for security for a Drought Concessional Loan. So it's not the bank: it is actually a government agency.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:32 :44 ): If it is the government agency PIRSA, which is not part of my portfolio responsibilities, I will undertake to take that question on notice and ask my agency to question PIRSA about its requirements. However, as I say, it may well pertain in exactly the same way: if the water is not portable, if the water has to be reduced in a region, for example, there may be very good reasons why it can't be used for that purpose. But I undertake to take that question on notice and bring back a response.

 

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