Gawler River Flooding

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 14:44 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Water and the River Murray questions regarding flooding on the Gawler River, particularly in the Virginia area. 

Leave granted. 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a likely chance of a La Niña event, which will see above average rainfall between now and December, increasing the risk of future flooding. As the minister would be well aware, the former federal member for Wakefield, Mr David Fawcett, now a senator for South Australia, successfully brought together the representatives from all three levels of government through the Gawler River Floodplain Management Authority to once and for all ensure the construction of the Bruce Eastick North Para Flood Mitigation Dam in 2007, without which the localised flooding right along the Gawler River would be much greater. 

I think the minister glossed over the work that has been done there, but the reality is that it was a very long time to get all those councils to agree on those works. Certainly, those works have, in many senses, been successful in some form of control of the North Para River, particularly at a time when the South Para is full of water as well. Will the minister indicate what measures are currently being undertaken by the state government to minimise further flooding in the next three to four months in the Virginia area, particularly given the likelihood of a La Niña weather event? 

Given that the Gawler River Floodplain Management Authority and associated councils and landholders have long worked on potential additional measures along the catchment, will the minister provide more information about the government's status on those potential works? He indicated that he was aware of some of them, but I would appreciate more information. Thirdly, to what extent is it the experience of people who have lived along the various stages of the catchment—both North and South Paras and the areas of the Gawler River near the confluence and also at different stages of the river where, certainly, I have greater knowledge—of it being much deeper and wider than it was at Virginia? 

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:47 ): I would like to thank the honourable member for his most important question. At the outset, I should refer back to the answer I gave to the Hon. Mr Ridgway about who was responsible for the management of this area. It is the council and the Gawler River Floodplain Management Authority who are the responsible agencies. 

Of course, the honourable member in his very polite and gentlemanly way did say that it had taken an awful long time to get agreement from these local government authorities. That reminds me of a similar situation with another collective of councils, in another creek system not too far from here. I have to say, dealing with councils to come to an agreement over taking their legislative responsibilities—legislative responsibilities given to them by this house and the other place—is, I have to say, absolutely fraught. I am only too pleased— 

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway interjecting: 

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: The Hon. David Ridgway talks about passing the buck. It was legislation that you introduced through this chamber and you voted on that actually sets up the responsibilities for local government in these measures, Hon. Mr David Ridgway. You should know better. 

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway interjecting: 

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: You should know better. All you do is get up in here— 

The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister has the floor. 

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr President. The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: Point of order, sir: the minister is accusing 'you' of lots of things, and I think he should be directing his comments through the chair. 

The PRESIDENT: Minister, please just follow the protocols and answer the question. 

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Mr President, I was following protocols by identifying the Hon. David Ridgway before I embarked into the plural 'you'. It should have been, of course, the singular. Of course, I will always excuse you from my derogatory comments about the Leader of the Opposition. That would never apply to you, sir. 

The Leader of the Opposition comes into this place pretending he does not know what the legislative authority for certain events is and tries to throw it off, passing the buck himself onto the state government and absolutely never admitting that the legislative responsibility lies with either local government or, as is more often the case, the federal government, which the mob over there does not even have the backbone to get up and attack on behalf of our state. 

I have to say that the Hon. John Dawkins, in his very pleasant way, was referring to the difficulties in getting local government— 

Members interjecting: 

The PRESIDENT: Order! 

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: —to actually come to the table and adopt a plan. However, now we have seen that—and I did note, in my response to the Hon. Michelle Lensink, that it is good to see a brief article in the paper (although you can never trust the paper, of course; I would want to go to talk to the management authority themselves about this)—and I assume, on the basis of that report in the paper, that they have actually self organised to do this next stage of work, as is proper.