The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:06): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Human Services, representing the Minister for Environment and Water, questions regarding low-flow bypass systems.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: In the government's election policy document entitled 'Natural Resources Management—Empowering Communities' they outline that the federal government has supported a series of low-flow bypasses in the Angas and Bremer catchments in the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges through funding of $12 million from the Flows for the Future Program. This was estimated to cover 90 per cent of total project costs, with state funds to make up the remaining 10 per cent to provide up to 500 low-flow bypasses.
I have been advised that some natural resources management officers are telling landowners that the South Australian government intends to make installation of these systems compulsory during 2019 and that landowners will be required to contribute to the cost. My questions to the minister are:
1. Can the minister advise how much government money has been spent on low-flow bypasses to date, providing a breakdown for state and federal funding?
2. Can the minister advise how many landowners have expressed an interest in the scheme and how many low-flow bypass systems have been installed?
3. Are there any intentions to transition the program from being voluntary to mandatory?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (16:08): I thank the honourable member for that question. I think there has been quite a lot of dialogue within this chamber in relation to low-flow bypasses, which have had somewhat of a contentious history. It is an issue that I know the honourable member has raised with the previous government and was subject to some potential amendments to the last round of amendments to the Natural Resources Management Act. I pay tribute to our former colleague, the Hon. Rob Brokenshire, who was quite concerned about this issue as well.
For the benefit of honourable members, low-flow bypasses are devices that can enhance environmental flows. Particularly during drought conditions, they are sometimes installed on dams and other watercourses so that there will be some environmental flow to maintain the environmental assets. I visited a range of different devices in the Clare Valley some years ago and the feedback from some of the farmers was quite sceptical about them silting up and so forth.
I am aware that the federal government funded this program, I think, in the previous financial year and funding was provided to the Murray-Darling Basin NRM Board, but in relation to those specific questions that the honourable member has raised, I will take those on notice and seek some information from the Minister for Environment and bring it back.
Answer to Question
1 August 2018
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): The Department for Environment and Water has advised :
1. That since 2015, approximately $690,000 of state funds and $1.1 million of commonwealth funds has been expended across the eastern and western Mount Lofty Ranges.
2. 230 landholders expressed interest. In the eastern Mount Lofty Ranges construction works commenced at the start of 2018, with 100 sites returning low flows to date.