PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS – Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme

Mr PASIN (Barker) (11:04): Mr Deputy Speaker, you might know that I’m an asthmatic. But I have to say even I am struggling; it’s taken some of my breath away to hear the member for Kingston go from water and horticulture to submarines to cars! Let’s drag it back to water, because I’m here to speak on this motion and to talk about the bipartisan approach to this. This is $45.6 million invested by the coalition government into water infrastructure. And what will that do for South Australia? What will it do for farmers in the member for Wakefield’s electorate? It will create 3,700 jobs, and it will create some $500 million for the state’s economy—and these figures are important; I will come back to them.

We are talking about 12 gigs. I will leave for a moment any partisan complaints—which have been made so well by the member for Boothby, and by the member for Grey on our side—about the fact that the Labor Party sought to cut funding to this scheme. It cut funding to the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund—the very scheme which is now delivering this $45.6 million to the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme. So we’re in screaming agreement, the member for Wakefield and I, and the member for Kingston and I, that an investment of this nature is unashamedly good for South Australian jobs. It is unashamedly good for South Australian farmers. And remember, we’re talking about 12 gig. So, if it is good for farmers in the member for Wakefield’s electorate, can the member for Wakefield and the member for Kingston—anyone on that side—tell me why we should rip out 36 gigs from irrigators in the Riverland? Because that’s exactly what is currently proposed. They’ve come in here to champion the 12 gigs for farmers in the member for Wakefield’s electorate creating 3,700 jobs. But they’re not going to talk to you about the 36 gigs—conveniently, three times the amount of water—being ripped out of the Riverland. What is that going to do? Well, on these numbers, it will cost us 12,000 jobs: easy to say, hard to comprehend. It will cost the South Australian economy—the worst-performing economy in the country—$1.5 billion on these figures.

Whilst I’m in screaming agreement with the member for Wakefield and the member for Kingston with respect to this particular project, I hope they’re in screaming agreement with me when I say irrigators in the Riverland can’t afford to give up any more water. We can’t afford to lose jobs. We as a state can’t afford to lose the revenue that comes with it. But strangely, what I will hear on that proposal from those on the other side is silence. They are running this disingenuous campaign: ‘Save the Murray’. To be honest, their campaign is code for: ‘Rip water irrigation licences out of the Riverland’, ‘Cost irrigators’—in my electorate—’their businesses’ and ‘Cost workers in the Riverland their jobs’. So I find it passing strange that those opposite will come in here and claim so-called credit for this investment when they know, deep down in their hearts, that this is a coalition commitment, this $45.6 million out of a fund that those opposite were going to cancel, or at least cut. So I would like to see the same sort of screaming agreement, the same sort of bipartisanship, when we talk about the irrigators in my electorate—the people that put fruit and vegetables on the tables, in the pantries and in the fridges of Australians all across the country, and indeed on the tables, in the pantries and in the fridges of people around the world. To do otherwise is proof positive that those on the other side are, quite frankly, uninterested in the national interest. They are much more interested in the interests of their respective electorates. And whilst I can come here and say that this is an unashamedly good thing for South Australia, and for farmers in the member for Wakefield’s electorate, delivered by the coalition government, I hope the member for Wakefield can do the same when we speak about irrigators from the Riverland.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Rob Mitchell ): The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.