Water Quality

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:18 :59 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation a question about water quality.

Leave granted.

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: Water quality—unlike the quality of your hearing. Yesterday, the honourable minister spoke in response to a question I asked on water pricing, in particular in the Clare Valley, but he came back and said:

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 water that SA Water supplies, regardless of the cost of supplying that water.

I have been contacted by some SA Water customers on the Far West Coast, who do indeed pay the same price as everybody else for their water. Their particular concern is the quality of the water that is provided to their properties and that there is a high level of calcium and other minerals in that water. In fact, I have been contacted by one farmer who has 11 kilometres of piping on his own property—to supply his troughs for drinking water for his stock—that, after ten years, now all has to be renewed, it is so clogged up with the calcium and mineral deposits in the water. My questions to the minister are:

1.Why charge the same price across all of the state when, clearly, the quality of the water is so poor? I am sure you wouldn't be able to get away with people in Adelaide having to replace all the piping in their domestic properties.

2.For these farmers, whose own infrastructure has been damaged because of SA Water's poor quality water, is there any opportunity for them to claim some of the expenses back from SA Water for replacement of those pipes?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:21 :01 ): I thank the honourable member for his most important question. He undoubtedly understands that, in fact, water supplied to the regions and remote areas is heavily subsidised. We have talked about that in this place previously. So, whilst indeed everybody pays the same price for water, the cost of delivering water to remote areas in this state is vastly increased over the cost of delivering water to the urban areas.

It just makes sense because of the kilometres of the pipeline that is required to take water out to the remote areas and the fewer customers there are to actually ameliorate the costs of delivering water over those areas compared to the smaller size of delivery area in Adelaide and the number of customers that those costs can be spread over. But this government thinks that it is fair to make sure that people in remote areas of the state pay the same price for water as you would do in urban areas.

We continue to support that position, unlike the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, who was on the radio this week somehow suggesting that reports coming out of ESCOSA, for example, about the economic efficiency of the system should be adopted and looked at when those reports actually set up a situation where the vast majority of SA Water customers, somewhere near 75 per cent of them, would be worse off.

That is the policy the Liberal leader seems to be proposing. That is the policy that they are putting about. They want to go for a hard economic policy that does not take into consideration any social issues whatsoever; none at all; they do not care. They do not care about community service obligations. They want to go for hardline economic water policy that will see most people getting water from SA Water paying more. SA Water, under this government, will continue to make sure that people in remote areas get water at the same prices that people in Adelaide pay for it.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:23 :00 ): Supplementary: will the minister explain why they do not get the same quality water? If they are going to have the same price across the state, why can't they have the same quality?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:23 :14 ): The leader knows full well that there is not one pool of water that is circulated across the state. Different zones across the state have access to different sources of water. Even inside the metropolitan area that has been the case for a long time. So we are still subsidising people in rural and regional areas at cost to the people in the urban area because we think that is fair, but clearly those opposite do not. They want to see more people paying more for water. That is their policy and, by the way, they want to privatise SA Water at the same time.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:23 :50 ): A supplementary question. How do you propose the landowner pay for the replacement of his pipes that has to happen every 10 years because of your poor quality? I would suggest to the minister that he should have a good answer, because he is going to Ceduna for a community cabinet shortly and he will get the same questions there.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 14:24 :09 ): As the honourable member should know and would reasonably be expected to know, pipes laid on your own property are your own responsibility.

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