Legislative Council: Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Eyre Peninsula Desalination Project

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:38): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing questions to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on Billy Lights Point desalination site.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: The fishing industry commissioned a scientific report into the industry and environmental effects of a desalination site within the Boston Bay and Proper Bay shallow water locations. The report, by Flinders University, calls into question the gross scientific oversight of the government's South Australian Research and Development Institute's report rejecting laboratory modelling. This new report sides with industry concerns, with scientists fearing the inlets will suck up blue mussel larvae and the salty discharge will cause irreparable harm to aquaculture in the bay. My questions to the minister are:

1. Has the minister contacted the fishing and aquaculture industry she is meant to represent in relation to these report findings?

2. Has the minister relayed these industry concerns to her colleague the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water?

3. What proof of industry advocacy can she share with this chamber?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:39): I thank the honourable member for her question. I have had correspondence from a number of stakeholders, including the seafood industry, about this matter. I certainly respect their advocacy for their sectors and, of course, for the industry in general. Certainly, our government appreciates the contribution to the state's economy that their industries make and also our reputation as a premium seafood destination, much of which is built on the work that happens across Eyre Peninsula, the Spencer Gulf and the West Coast.

Many of those pieces of correspondence have also been addressed to the Minister for Climate, my colleague the Hon. Susan Close in the other place, and some also to the Premier. Those have all—or most—been answered. Those that haven't been answered certainly will be in the very near term.

In terms of the report to which the honourable member refers, I am advised that the SARDI report was fully peer reviewed. It builds on many years of research on behalf of SA Water and they will be making a response to some of the concerns that were raised by the report that the honourable member referred to in the very near future. They do refute the claims that are being made in that report.