Stormwater Management

February 28, 2017

The Hon. J.M. GAZZOLA ( 15:22 :02 ): My question is to the Minister for Water and the River Murray. Will the minister inform the chamber about the recent announcement that the government will contribute up to $70 million to implement the Brown Hill Creek Keswick Creek Stormwater Management Plan?

 

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 15:22 :15 ): My answer is yes, Mr President. Brownhill, Keswick, Glen Osmond and the Parklands creeks are important drainage water courses in metropolitan Adelaide. The creeks have, of course, a history of flooding and a low standard of flood protection generally, and, therefore, are relatively high flood risks for communities. Their combined catchment is mainly contained within the local government areas of Adelaide, Burnside, Mitcham, Unley and West Torrens.

 

I am advised that since 2006, West Torrens, Unley, Burnside, Mitcham and Adelaide City councils have investigated how to reduce the flood risk of around 7,000 homes and businesses from a one in 100 years flooding event in their region. I am pleased to advise the council that the South Australian government, along with the councils of West Torrens, Adelaide, Unley, Burnside and Mitcham, have reached an historic $140 million agreement to fund the Brown Hill Keswick Creek Stormwater Management Plan.

 

The plan is a culmination of more than 10 years of planning, I am told. It is endorsed, of course, by the Stormwater Management Authority and has broad community support, as you would expect from such wideranging consultation. The state government has agreed to fund up to 50 per cent of the project, currently sitting at around $70 million as our share, with the remainder to come from local government, at least at this stage. We're still waiting for confirmation, if the federal government will be vaguely interested in supporting this very important infrastructure program, given the importance of avoiding flooding to many areas of national interest, that being the airport, transport corridors and freight corridors.

 

The Brown Hill and Keswick Creek Stormwater Management Plan, once fully implemented, will deliver a broad range of benefits to communities in the catchment. It means a significant reduction in the risk of flooding, as I said earlier, and serious water damage to houses and businesses in the event of a one in 100 years, or even a one in 50 years flood.

 

We also expect to see an overall benefit of at least, I am advised, $240 million in terms of damage mitigation from flooding, minimisation of disruption to businesses, mitigation of infrastructure damage and water quality amenity benefits across the catchment; a reduction in cost impacts to the Adelaide Airport of between $15 million and $56 million depending on the modelling (and of course this is something I think the federal government should be very concerned about); the creation of up to 73 full-time jobs during construction; a potential reduction, hopefully, in the average home and contents insurance for residents living in the catchment area because of the reduced threat of flooding because of the infrastructure spending; and increased certainty for future industry investment across the catchment area.

 

Key works, I am advised, for the infrastructure investment include the South Parklands and Glenside detention basins, and I am speaking to mayors about whether they can be very early cabs off the rank in terms of detailed designs and beginning of the infrastructure, given that they will be constructed in the main on public land; Lower and Mid Brownhill Creek upgrades, which are much more problematic because a lot of that will require the assent and cooperation of private landowners; flow diversions from Keswick to Brownhill Creek; Ridge Park detention basin, which has been completed and was the site of our announcement this week, undoubtedly will be a great place to show residents what amenity can be created by this sort of infrastructure, which will be essentially in many residents' backyards; a diversion culvert at Goodwood railway junction; Glen Osmond Creek upgrade works; Mount Osmond interchange dam modification; and upgrades to critical sections of Upper Brownhill Creek.

 

It is not too fine a thing to say that this is a fantastic day for state government and local government cooperation in our state, and it is a great day in terms of the agreement to forge ahead with this infrastructure spend. Unfortunately, as I indicated earlier, we are somewhat let down by the federal government not wanting to be a party to this plan and not wanting to share what I think is their fair share of funding. It would be very simple for them to agree to go one-third, one-third, one‑third, with the federal government, state government and councils putting in an equal amount.

 

Despite, as I mentioned earlier, the significant long-term benefit to our community in South Australia and Adelaide, and the requests from both state and local government directly to the feds, the federal government has refused time and time again to support this project financially. I note the complete lack of advocacy and effort from the Liberal opposition in this place. Perhaps they are too scared of their federal counterparts to speak up on behalf of South Australia; we have seen that before. We hear virtually nothing from them. Whilst this is very disappointing, it is just another example, I think, of the Liberal Party in South Australia failing to stand up for South Australians and our interests.

 

We are, of course, getting on with the job and rolling out the infrastructure upgrades anyway. It is very important to see the very strong support from the member for Waite, minister Hamilton‑Smith, in the other place. At least he is prepared to put his community's interests first, the interests of his area and his electors. He is prepared to stand up for South Australians and put South Australians first, but not the Liberal Party in South Australia.

 

Again, they are such a supine bunch. They have no backbone. They just do whatever Chris Pyne, the member for Sturt, directs them to do, and that is: don't criticise the federal government on any terms. Do not ask the federal government for any money, whatever you do, in the interests of South Australians, because they aren't going to give it to you. That is the state Liberal Party here; they are a basket case. Of course, we don't stand around waiting for gifts from the federal government. We don't stand around waiting for the Liberals in South Australia to step up and support South Australians, because it just won't happen.

 

I would like to thank the Lord Mayor, Martin Haese, Mayors David Parkin, Glenn Spear, Lachlan Clyne and John Trainer, and Stormwater Management Authority presiding member, Mr Stephen Hains, for their ongoing support for this project and for joining me at the announcement this week. I would like to make special acknowledgement of federal members Steve Georganas and Kate Ellis, who advocated for financial support from the federal government and persuaded the opposition to promise, should they be elected, to pay for their fair share as a federal government and go one-third, one-third, one third with state government and local government.

 

That is to their credit and speaks to their clout as Labor members in the Labor opposition, unlike Liberals in this state who have absolutely no weight, absolutely no persuasive ability with the federal Liberal government. We can't even get them to agree to such an important infrastructure spend that protects not only the residents, communities and businesses of Adelaide, but also important commonwealth land and commonwealth assets. They have absolutely no interest in standing up for South Australians in this regard. Steve Georganas—

Members interjecting:

 

The PRESIDENT: Order!

 

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Steve Georganas, the member for Hindmarsh, in particular has been a staunch advocate for this project. As I said, in the lead up to the federal election in 2016 he managed to secure a promise from the federal Labor Party of about $40 million for this project, and that is a fantastic and substantial contribution from what could have been a fantastic federal Labor government, but not matched by the Liberals. If they have any sense of being a party that will stand up for South Australians, I implore them to go and talk to their federal Liberal counterparts and say, 'Fair's fair, come on and get on with sharing the burden of investing in this important flood mitigation infrastructure'.

This government at the very least, this state Labor government, is committed to investing in infrastructure, creating jobs (I am advised that about 73 jobs will be created as a part of some of this infrastructure build), and keeping South Australians safe and their properties safe into the future. The Brown Hill Keswick Creek Stormwater Management Plan is another great example of this.

 

I do encourage the councils, now having reached agreement on the finances and the spend, to rapidly put in place the council subsidiary that will manage this infrastructure in the coming years. It is something we need to get on with and bring into place before the end of the year.

 

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 15:31 :07 ): Can the minister advise the basis on which the councils will participate in this, how their proportion of the $140 million is to be shared by the councils?

 

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 15:31 :25 ): This is a brilliant question, and I thank the honourable member for his insight. A long-time sticking point has been to try to get councils at the up end of the stream to actually invest in programs and infrastructure down at the bottom where most of the impact will be, for instance, in West Torrens.

 

A lot of the impediments to an early resolution have been caused by councils higher upstream than those downstream. I remember the mayor for West Torrens, John Trainer, a former member of the other place—in fact, a former speaker I think in the other place—lamenting at great length that, even though the residents of West Torrens, through their council, are prepared to invest in infrastructure projects, not just in West Torrens but further upstream, councils such as Mitcham and Unley were not prepared to invest their ratepayer funds in mitigation work further downstream.

 

It echoes the problem we have with the federal Liberal government and the New South Wales and Victorian states over the River Murray. Upstream states don't care what happens in South Australia, don't fight for our interests. Federal Liberals in the commonwealth government don't care what happens to South Australia in terms of the River Murray. In exactly the same parallel fashion, people upstream of West Torrens, where a lot of the flooding will be (there will be flooding elsewhere), don't care. That has taken us 10 years to resolve.

 

I am very pleased to say to the Hon. Mr Darley that we have overcome that hurdle. It is not a question now of funding just projects in your local council area but of seeing the catchment as a whole system, and we will be investing accordingly.

 

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