The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:56): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing on the topic of the monitoring of our drinking water quality.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: As any public health student knows, cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes gastro and respiratory infections, and testing for it is a procedure that requires significant skill. Furthermore, quality and safe drinking water is, of course, a key determinant of our public health outcomes. On 16 November, it was reported in The Advertiser that SA Water is planning to cut scientists who monitor our drinking water quality. This is ahead of what is set to be a hot summer and it has triggered concern from experts over our water safety.
Scientists themselves are saying that a perfect storm for water contamination and pathogens is brewing with the changes that are coming, not only because of the weather but also because of the government's plans to open reservoirs to public recreation this summer. Professionals Australia, who represent the relevant scientists, have stated that we are putting competitiveness above safety, particularly given there have recently been detections of cryptosporidium oocysts in the very water that feeds metropolitan Adelaide. My questions to the minister are:
1. Given that SA Health, as stated on its website, ensures that our drinking water is delivered to consumers according to the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act 2011 and the Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2012, what assurances has SA Water given the minister and his department that water quality and the subsequent public health outcomes will not be adversely affected by these changes and, moreover, by the government's plans to allow public recreation in reservoirs this summer?
2. Given the substantially reduced capacity of SA Water Quality Centre for monitoring, to ensure that we have healthy and safe drinking water, what other measures has the government taken to address this issue?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:57): I thank the honourable member for her question. Both of those matters are matters for minister Speirs, one in his capacity as the minister responsible for SA Water and the other in his capacity as the environment minister. In relation to the management of reservoirs, I have certainly assured the minister that SA Health stands ready to work with the management of reservoirs in terms of water quality issues. In relation to both matters, I will seek further information that the minister in the other place might make available to you.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:58): Does the minister not consider that our drinking water quality and safety is a public health issue?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:58): What I do consider is that the best place for answers to questions is from the minister responsible, and the minister responsible for SA Water's quality is minister Speirs.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:59): Supplementary: so is the minister saying that if health is impacted by a cut by another department it is not his responsibility?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:59): I've already given an answer.