Water Pricing

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 16:01 :55 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation a question about the 'Brockument'.

Leave granted.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: Following the signing of the document between the member for Frome, Mr Geoff Brock, and the Premier in March this year (which we refer to on this side of the chamber as the 'Brockument') I noticed there were a number of points here. I will quote from it:

I refer to our discussions about the need for stable and effective government in South Australia following the State election on 15 March 2014.

I am pleased that we have agreed in principle on a set of arrangements designed to achieve that end . I confirm that under those arrangements —

and a number of them are listed, but in particular I am interested in No. 5, which states:

The Labor Party will commit a re-elected S tate G overnment to a number of projects and issues of particular concern to the communities in the electorate of Frome , and will commit to the investigat ion of a number of other projects also of concern to the communities in the electorate of Frome.

It goes on to say, at the end of the second page:

The Labor Party is prepared to investigate a number of other issues and projects that communities in the electorate of Frome have identified as significant to them. These issues and projects include—

and there is a list of about 10, but in particular No. 5 states:

Relief for Clare Valley wine growers in respect of their water requirements; in particular by investigating the possibility of periods of inter - peak water use and night-time use of water.

My question to the minister responsible for water is: since the signing of that document, what work has been undertaken by the government or SA Water to investigate the possibility of interpeak water use and night-time use of water?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 16:04 :57 ): I thank the honourable member for his most important question, and I would like to commend him for his regular interrogation of the government on matters of great importance to people in rural and regional South Australia.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: And the people of Frome.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: The people of Frome have an excellent member in their own right to represent them.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: I'm pretty sure they will make up their own mind on these matters. In relation to the question asked by the honourable member, whether you live in Clare or Adelaide or McLaren Vale or, indeed, the Riverland, everyone pays the same price per kilolitre for the water that SA Water supplies, regardless of the cost of supplying that water.

SA Water has been working very closely with the Clare Region Winegrape Growers Association to explore opportunities to supply water via third party access arrangements during peak periods at a lesser price than the statewide price. On 3 July 2014, SA Water met with representatives of the association and presented an indicative commercial structural proposal for the association's consideration.

This proposal involves SA Water's infrastructure being used to transport water secured by the Clare Valley irrigators themselves under their River Murray licences during the peak summer period at a lesser price than the statewide price. This arrangement is subject to there being a period of time during the day with spare capacity existing in SA Water's system when pumping could take place at a cheaper price than applies normally.

The association was advised at the meeting on 3 July 2014 that hydraulic modelling undertaken by SA Water confirms there is capacity within SA Water's network to develop a summer viticulture product in the period of 9pm to 5am. During this time window, SA Water pumping costs are cheaper, I am advised.

This proposal would deliver the intended outcome of relief to the irrigators and generate additional revenue for SA Water, of course, through increased water consumption with—and this is the important point—no additional cost to be borne by South Australian taxpayers. SA Water understands the association has engaged with irrigators to seek their feedback, further identifying issues of concern. Importantly, this is a model that could be applied elsewhere in the network, should there be sufficient capacity to do so.

I am also advised that, on 14 October 2014, SA Water met with the association to give feedback on SA Water's proposal and, during this meeting, I understand the association made a counterproposal to SA Water for which SA Water is now conducting financial modelling. Of course, a formal response to the association is planned to be provided very soon, once that modelling has been undertaken.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 16:07 :40 ): The minister said that he had been advised that it could be transported at a cheaper price than the normal price. How much cheaper? What advice was it that he received?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 16:07 :48 ): I do not have that information before me and, of course, I do not yet know whether that will be commercial in confidence.

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