House of Assembly: Thursday, March 09, 2023


Eyre Peninsula Desalination Plant

Mr TELFER (Flinders) (14:17): In regard to the answer, can the minister assure the house that locating a desalination plant at Billy Lights Point on Eyre Peninsula will not have negative outcomes for the aquaculture sector in the Port Lincoln bay area? Has she received any feedback about the proposal from this sector?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Deputy Premier, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Minister for Defence and Space Industries, Minister for Climate, Environment and Water) (14:17): SARDI has undertaken a report, which is publicly available now, that has examined the impact, both simply of the salinity from the desalination plant into the water but also the question of whether there is an impact of any of the sprat being sucked into the desalination plant. Both of those aspects are being examined.

The SARDI report is satisfied that the amount of increase in salination is within the current variability in that area, so it doesn't take the water to being saltier than one would expect in the variability in that area. It also has said that there would be a minute amount of the material being sucked in. Something like 0.1 per cent, I think—but I will double-check the figure—might come close.

On that basis, I feel that SARDI has done a good job. That has been looked at by the site selection committee that was established by the previous government, and that report is now publicly available. On that basis, the next stage is able to be gone into, which is to properly build a detailed business plan for putting the desalination plant there.

As the member will be very aware, and I believe he has made reference to it publicly already today, the overwhelming need is to make sure that Port Lincoln and Eyre Peninsula have water security. You can't have a major part of South Australia and a very significant town in South Australia at risk of not having fresh water in 2025. That is unthinkable. So we need to keep making progress here. We need to keep moving in order to be certain that we are able to deliver the water security needs, also paying attention to not spending excessive dollars that are unnecessary to spend, and also that we have paid due attention to the scientific advice on the potential impact.