Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 30, 2022


River Murray Flood

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:15): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on the topic of housing in flood-affected areas.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, the Premier told the other place that over a thousand homes will be affected by the Murray River floods and those people will be requiring alternative accommodation. The Malinauskas government has committed to crisis and emergency accommodation in flood-affected areas to provide short-term solutions. Long-term solutions, however, will also be required, as demonstrated by the flood-affected areas in New South Wales.

In Lismore, in that state, authorities are still trying to find long-term solutions for flood-affected residents nine months after floods left thousands of people without homes. With vacancy rates of just 0.5 per cent in the Murray and Mallee regions and 0.73 per cent in the Riverland, the number of available homes is limited for people who need long-term accommodation while recovery efforts are being undertaken. My question to the minister, therefore, is:

1. Is the minister satisfied that there is sufficient availability of medium to long-term accommodation for flood-affected communities in South Australia?

2. What is the minister doing to ensure that there is an increase in housing stock in the affected regional areas?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:17): I thank the honourable member for his question. It certainly is a very pertinent topic in that we are aware of the immediacy of the approaching waters and what that will mean for people who do need to temporarily relocate. Of course, the Minister for Human Services has been very active as part of the cross-government and cross-agency activities to address the kinds of emergency situations that people will find themselves in.

In terms of medium to long-term accommodation, this is well known to be a significant issue in regional South Australia, as indeed it is quite an issue in metropolitan Adelaide as well. They are very difficult circumstances for all regions, but then when we add to that something that has the kind of effects that we are expecting this flood event to have, it is simply an added difficulty and complexity.

The minister for housing in the other place and the Minister for Human Services in the other place, as well as the government, are working on medium and long-term strategies in terms of housing and I have no doubt that the Riverland and the situation that we are faced with because of the rising waters and the expected flood damage will form a big part of the thinking as we go forward.

In terms of response, there are national disaster funding arrangements that are in place when there are various natural disasters, and of course we have seen those in place in the other states. I am sure that we will be very active in working together to try to find solutions for residents in regional areas, particularly the Riverland and the Murraylands, who might be affected by this.