Mr DULUK (Waite) (14:58): My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Water. Can the minister please update the house on the management and remediation of contaminated sites in South Australia?
The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS (Black—Minister for Environment and Water) (14:58): I want to particularly thank the member for Waite for the question—
The SPEAKER: Order!
The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS: —and in particular for representing me at the 8th International Contaminated Site Remediation Conference in Adelaide on Sunday night. I understand that he gave a rousing speech to the hundreds of delegates from all over the world—
The SPEAKER: Order!
The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS: —who came to the 8th International—
Mr Teague interjecting:
The SPEAKER: The member for Heysen is called to order.
The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS: —Contaminated Site Remediation Conference. Interestingly, the first such conference was held in Adelaide as well, and of course South Australia has a substantial history in undertaking complex site remediation as a result of our industrial and manufacturing heritage in this state.
This conference was an opportunity for some 600 or so delegates from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America to come together. It included our own Chief Executive of the EPA, Tony Circelli, who was one of the plenary speakers. The Malaysian Minister of Housing and Local Government, Zuraida Kamaruddin, also attended and was very keen to learn about the site contamination leadership that South Australia has provided over recent years.
In terms of that leadership, one thing the EPA has a particular focus on is dealing with orphan sites. These are sites for which the owner cannot be found anymore or is financially unable to undertake its responsibilities with regard to site remediation. The EPA and the public servants who are part of that organisation have a very important role in coming in and taking care, control and stewardship of those sites. They work through often complex community engagement processes and costly decontamination processes as they work towards the remediation of those sites, making them safe and in some cases aspiring to see other forms of development undertaken on them.
This is something that the government is very interested in being able to do more efficiently and cost-effectively, bearing in mind that safety and community wellbeing are maintained. We know that these contaminated sites are often in strategically advantageous places when it comes to uplifting value for the communities in which they are found. They can be on strategic road and rail corridors. They can often be close to the city centre. That gives them substantial potential value but, unless they are appropriately decontaminated and made a central part of the surrounding community, woven into the surrounding community, that value cannot be attained.
It was very interesting to look at the list of speakers who came to Adelaide. I know from speaking to EPA officials that there was an opportunity for shared learnings between different jurisdictions from all around the world. Of course, they were also able to look at Adelaide, which, despite having these sites, has developed a clean, green reputation. That is a reputation this government wants to continue to enhance through the creation of our governance body, Green Adelaide, which we hope to set up following the passage of legislation later this year. It was a great conference. I hope that the many people who attended it have been able to take their learnings all across the world, and I once again thank the member for Waite for representing me there.
Mr DULUK (Waite) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Environment and Water. Can the minister update the house on how the government is working to help protect our state against the threat of a changing climate?
The SPEAKER: Minister, be seated for one moment.
Mr Malinauskas interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Leader of the Opposition, you can leave for the remainder of question time, thank you.
The honourable member for Croydon having withdrawn from the chamber:
The SPEAKER: The Minister for Environment and Water has the call.
The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS (Black—Minister for Environment and Water) (14:55): Thank you, Mr Speaker, and it is very good to be able to update not only the member for Waite but also this house about the Marshall Liberal government's approach to climate change, which is embedded very significantly in the state budget and which was announced yesterday.
Our approach in funding a number of key and very significant climate change policies builds on the 2018-19 financial year budget, which of course we believe was the biggest spending budget on climate change in this state's history, with very substantial investments in renewables and a whole range of environmental initiatives. We have continued with that theme, that body of work, in this budget, and our approach to climate change is woven into all of the environmental initiatives which were announced in the budget.
It was a great budget for South Australia's natural environment, with some $86 million of new investment being provided to our natural environment over the coming years. When it comes to climate change, there is no greater example of our focus and our investment than our very significant spending on our coastline: $52 million for coastal protection across the state and a very substantial amount invested in the member for Colton's electorate, which we know is that weak spot in the metropolitan coastline—a weak spot in our metropolitan coastline at West Beach that has knock-on effects for all the metropolitan coastline in our capital city.
We know that our coasts form the front line in the fight against climate change in this state. We know that increasing populations, rising sea levels and increasing storm events all contribute to a vulnerability in our coastline, and we have to be willing to invest, and invest substantially, in order to overcome those challenges. I was very keen to see our coast invested in, and I know that many of the members in this chamber are, none more so than the member for Colton with his ongoing advocacy for his electorate. But we are quadrupling the funding available for regional coastal protection as well. We've got many thousands of kilometres of coastline in regional South Australia. We know there are challenges there as well, and a $4 million regional coastal protection fund is being established.
We are also making significant investment in our national parks. More than $11 million is being invested in our national parks because that is land that the government has care and control of. Twenty-one per cent of the state is locked up in our reserve system. They are areas of land which we can get into and in which we can improve biodiversity and increase resilience so that native species of flora and fauna can thrive in those environments and hopefully withstand a change in climate.
Then we've also got our investment in waste reduction, waste management. We are undertaking significant reform in the waste management and resources recovery area because we know that waste to landfill has a big impact on the amount of emissions. In fact, methane is thought to be four times more damaging for our environment than CO2, so diverting waste from landfill, getting it out of our landfills, is a very important response to climate change.
South Australia has a historic and, I believe, in many ways bipartisan approach to dealing with climate change, and this budget continues to take that to the next level.
Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:27): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister update the house on how the state government is addressing the impacts of rabbits on agricultural land?
The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:28): Yes, I certainly can. I thank the member for Waite. I know that he has rabbit incursions in his electorate in the foothills of South Australia. What I can say is that recently in Mount Barker, I was very happy to announce a new Rabbit Control Coordinator in South Australia. His name is Josh Rosser.
The SPEAKER: Order!
The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: No, it's not Peter the Rabbit: it's Josh. The position has been funded in a partnership thanks to $260,000 from the federal Liberal government through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. We know that the then minister Joyce had developed a white paper about the invasive species across the nation, none more so than the rabbit. We know that we are now working with landowners to wipe out areas of the destructive environmental pest and the amount of damage that it is doing, not only to agriculture and horticulture but also to our environmental assets.
I am sure the Minister for Environment is deeply concerned about the damage it's doing to his parks and his assets—some $30 million of damage across the state on an annual basis. What we are going to see is that the rabbit coordinator is now going to move around the state and coordinate with landowners, farmers, agriculturalists, horticulturalists and environmentalists to coordinate an approach to this destructive pest. We are seeing now that we are using some of the different methods, such as ripping, fumigation and, of course, the calicivirus that has been in train for a number of years.
The rabbit coordinator will work with landowners to make sure that we have a very much coordinated approach. He is travelling the state, and there have been significant reports on newly planted horticulture—grape vines, trees and nurseries. That puts the cycle of those trees and vines back four to five years in some cases. We know that some of the rootstocks, once they are chewed, never recover and can never be used out in open field. We know that the destruction on fence lines, the destruction they are incurring, particularly with agricultural crops, is having a significant impact on our economy.
Again, I would say that the landowners are being called upon to make sure that they let the coordinator know when there are significant sightings or impacts of rabbits so that we can actually implement a collaboration, an approach, that will better destroy this invasive pest. I am advised that the coordinator is about to release approximately 300 vials of the RHDV1 K5 calicivirus strain. That is the latest strain that is about to be released into our natural environment to combat the invasive species.
We know that, once upon a time, myxomatosis was a viral strain that was released, and it had a significant impact on rabbits, but today the calicivirus continues to evolve. With the release of those 300 vials, we hope to see the destruction of such an invasive pest. Josh Rosser is travelling the state, and I appeal to every landowner and every environmentalist: if you have rabbit pressure, contact him through PIRSA so that we can attack the rabbit instead of the rabbit attacking us.
Mr DULUK (Waite) (14:19): Thank you so much, sir. My question is to the Minister for Education. Can the minister update the house on the transition of year 7 to high school?Read more