Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Eyre Peninsula Desalination Project

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:31): I seek leave to provide a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development a question regarding the Eyre Peninsula Desalination Project.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: The desalination project is vital for water security for the regional townships across Eyre Peninsula as well as for primary production. Eyre Peninsula is one of South Australia's most productive regions, generating approximately $3.5 billion in gross regional product annually.

In light of the positive primary industries report card that the minister spoke about in the chamber yesterday, where $17.3 billion has been generated in regional South Australia through primary industries, my question to the minister is: will her government commit to using a share of the state tax revenue from the $17.3 billion generated in regional South Australia to fund the desalination project on Eyre Peninsula?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:32): I thank the honourable member for her question. SA Water is proposing to build a desalination plant at the Port Lincoln region to ensure that Eyre Peninsula's water supply and supporting infrastructure can meet the current and future needs of the local community.

On 15 October 2021, SA Water announced a site at Billy Lights Point as their preferred location and the preferred location is situated adjacent to the Aquaculture (Zones—Lower Eyre Peninsula) Policy 2013. Concerns have been raised with SA Water by the local aquaculture industry and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions in regard to potential impacts. Due to those concerns and the concerns of other stakeholders, SA Water established a site selection committee, including representation from the aquaculture industry to provide a recommendation to SA Water and the government for a suitable plant location.

I understand that the SA Water Board and the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water will consider all the available information, including the site selection committee, to make a final decision regarding a proposed plant location. Of course, as that process continues, all the matters around funding will be explored.