Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 9 September 2021.)
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (15:26): I rise to indicate that I am the lead speaker for the opposition on this bill. This bill was introduced in the House of Assembly on 26 May, so it has been quite some time before it has managed to make its way to this place. According to the government, it streamlines the application process for tourism developments within aquaculture zones by enabling the Minister for Primary Industries to approve developments. Currently, he does not have that power.
The minister purports to merely replicate existing requirements currently under the jurisdiction of other ministers. He has said that applicants must currently apply for development consent under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 via the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) and also seek authority to construct on the seabed from the transport minister. He says that if this bill passes, it will be a one-stop shop instead.
However, there are a number of questions that need answers, and during the committee stage—assuming we progress to that stage—the opposition does have a number of questions and will seek a number of clarifications.
The bill also removes entirely the application of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 from aquaculture tourism development, and the reasons for this are not clear to the opposition.
In terms of coastal tourism and tourism aquaculture, we are very keen to look at ways that we can increase the opportunities for such tourism ventures. Some of the examples that have been put forward include things such as oyster shucking on the water, which might be particularly attractive to tourists.
The minister in the other place has said that this new legislation will cut red tape, as I mentioned, and yet it is unclear how it will actually do so, given that there will still be a number of different approvals that will need to go to a number of different government departments. However, we are keen.
The shadow minister for tourism in the other place, the Hon. Zoe Bettison, and I have certainly had a number of conversations about the potential for destination experiences, particularly the opportunities to increase tourist numbers to such destinations and to ensure that there is a holistic promotion of different regional areas in particular to the rest of the country and indeed to the rest of the world once we have fully open borders, or at least more open than we have experienced in the last two years.
We want to ensure that emerging tourism sectors of all sorts are encouraged and expanded. We want to make sure that particularly our locally grown seafood is well-known across the world and across the country and that there are increased opportunities for people to not only experience the pleasure of eating such seafood but also the pleasure of seeing how those things come to pass.
We do want to make sure that new tourism experiences can be stimulated, but we also want to ensure that the necessary guidelines are in place. We want to ensure that there are no opportunities for inappropriate developments in aquaculture zones, which of course, in general, are in protected areas.
Among the questions we will be asking are: what will be the impact? What will be the limitations? How can we be sure that inappropriate development will not occur, and in what way does the government envisage that these will actually enhance both environmental protections as well as tourism opportunities and ensure that there is no crossover that is detrimental to our environment or detrimental to our regional communities?
As I mentioned, we have a number of questions that we will be putting at the committee stage if the bill passes the second reading. Subject to appropriate answers to those, we will be supporting the bill.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:30): I rise on behalf of the Greens to indicate our cautious support for the second reading of this bill and note that we also have many questions that we would like answered before offering full support. The desire and need to diversify an industry or business is certainly understandable and we must acknowledge the significance of aquaculture in our state. Certainly, the new and emerging opportunity for tourism as part of the aquaculture industry is exciting. Indeed, I have seen fishery businesses going down this path during the pandemic, moving from fishing to tourism, and good luck to them.
My understanding is, however, that there are already two developments that might fall under this bill and that there has been some interest from the industry in further aquaculture tourism developments from the tuna industry, relating to tuna rings off Port Lincoln, and there has also been some interest on Kangaroo Island.
Whilst we appreciate the desire for progress and innovation in tourism and the need for businesses to be able to diversify, we do wish to ensure that, with this legislation, that is done in the best way for all involved. We have some concerns that were raised in the other place and that we would echo here. We continue to be unclear in this bill whether the environmental protections that will be in place as part of the new planning approval process envisaged under this legislation will be as strong and as stringent as they should be. Indeed, we want to ensure that the EPA standards remain strong and stringent, and it is unclear to us whether this bill will do that.
We certainly do not wish to take the words in a briefing of the minister or the minister’s staff for it. We wish to have this on the public record, so I will have questions at the committee stage but also questions in the second reading that we hope the government will respond to before progressing to a second reading vote. We will of course support this bill at the second reading stage but reserve our position regarding the third reading after we go through the committee stage.
The initial tranche of questions we have are: why is this particular type of development being pulled out of the recently reformed planning system legislation? Will similar arguments that have been made for this be made for other types of developments to be pulled out of that planning regime, and will that therefore create a pathway for other types of developments to circumvent the standard planning applications and approval processes and environmental assessments?
Further, during the briefing the minister indicated that there had not been opposition or concerns raised regarding this bill. However, during debate in the other place, it was raised that environmental stakeholders and NGOs were not consulted, so could we please have a list of those environmental stakeholders and NGOs that were consulted and also whether or not they raised any concerns, whether they indicated support and in what form that support was indicated?
To the best of my understanding, the consultation was limited to the Department for Environment and Water, the EPA and the Department for Infrastructure and Transport, as well as the Attorney-General’s Department. Could the minister provide clarity as to whether that is the case or whether further consultation was undertaken or has since been undertaken and whether the lower house concerns that were raised have been addressed?
During our briefing, the minister indicated that there were some existing developments that might need retrospective approval under this bill, as they may not have gone through and got all the approvals as they may not have known that they needed to. Is this correct, and does the government think that introducing new legislation with unclear environmental protection requirements is good practice for dealing with developments that did not get the correct approvals under the current system?
The development in question, I believe, is the Salt Water Pavilion from Coffin Bay Oysters and the SA Premium Oyster farm tours from Smoky Bay Oysters. I have named them, but I would like the minister to address whether or not this legislation has been drafted with those particular businesses in mind. Further, the minister has stated:
If a proposed tourism building work application is to overlap any portion of an existing aquaculture lease or corresponding licence within an aquaculture zone, any associated tourism authorities may only be granted with the consent of these entities and any registered specified persons who hold an interest in them.
Could the minister please outline how this process will be managed, as it is not clear in the bill.
Throughout the bill, and the minister’s contribution and briefing, there have been several references to aquaculture tourism developments needing to be ecologically sustainable. How does the government define the criteria for ecological sustainability in this context? How will it be measured and how will it be enforced?
During the briefing that my office received, the minister indicated that while aquaculture sites already need to provide annual reports this reporting will likely cover the activities and impacts of structures and activities undertaken as part of the aquaculture tourism development, though he flagged that this would probably be less extensive than existing reporting and might not cover things such as waste. Would reporting and measuring waste, for example, associated with the development not be necessary to measure its environmental impact and ongoing ecological sustainability? If the minister could provide clarity on that, that would go some way to addressing the Greens’ concerns with this bill.
Further, during the briefing the minister indicated that this bill is not limited to developments that are demountables but that infrastructure has to be able to be removed. I do know that this seems to be different to the advice that the Labor Party received in their briefing and as was alluded to in the other place, where they state that the minister informed them that these structures must be demountables. Will the structures all be demountables and, if not, what kind of infrastructure does the government then consider will fit this criterion within this legislation?
Further, given the government has acknowledged general limitations of the Aquaculture Act in their second reading speeches in both houses, why are they not waiting for the broader review of the act so that this can be properly consulted on and implemented? Why is there a rush for this legislation? What relies on this piece of legislation passing within this current sitting period?
Finally, during the debate on the bill in the other place, the minister indicated that it is a requirement of aquaculture tourism development authorisation being granted that the development benefits or value-adds to the existing aquaculture operation, but the bill is broader than this. It states that the minister must be satisfied that the relevant building work and commercial tourism activity comprising the development will ‘complement, promote, be of benefit to or otherwise relate directly to aquaculture undertaken within the aquaculture zone’.
I think many would agree that that is quite broad and many things could otherwise relate directly to aquaculture undertaken within the aquaculture zone. What does the government envision these projects that otherwise relate directly to aquaculture undertaken within the aquaculture zone might entail if they do not already complement, promote or be of benefit to that same aquaculture undertaken within the aquaculture zone?
As I say, we have some concerns regarding this bill. We are gravely concerned with respect to the lack of consultation with NGOs, and particularly the environmental stakeholders. We look forward to our answers assuaging those fears or, should they not, this bill perhaps being given more forethought and consultation and being brought back in the new parliament.
The Hon. C. BONAROS (15:39): I rise on behalf of SA-Best to speak in support of the second reading of this bill and I do so with the benefit of having received comprehensive briefing from the office of the Minister for Primary Industries, David Basham, and follow-up responses in relation to questions and only last week having visited one of the developments that this bill would intend to support.
Aquaculture is one of the great success stories of South Australia, contributing close to $2 billion a year to the Australian economy. Tuna, marine finfish, oysters, mussels, algae and abalone are just some of the species farmed here, with oysters alone producing $35 million per annum. It has not always been smooth sailing, particularly for that industry, but it does provide an increasing number and diversity of local jobs in pristine regional locations across the state, such as KI, Arno Bay, Ceduna, Smoky Bay, Streaky Bay, Coffin Bay, Port Lincoln, Yorke Peninsula and the Limestone Coast.
It is estimated there are about a thousand direct jobs and over 1,500 support service jobs generated by aquaculture across a broad range of skilled and professional occupations, from cockswains, divers, scientists, technicians, farmhands and motor mechanics to boatbuilders and retail hospitality roles. There is nothing quite like visiting a region to understand the benefits or otherwise of the issues we debate in this place. It was absolutely fascinating to visit Coffin Bay Oysters to see firsthand how the oyster growing industry has evolved and expanded the production of the much sought after Coffin Bay oyster in the cool, clean, crystal clear protected waters of Coffin Bay.
It is fascinating to see how the industry has recognised and capitalised on the opportunity to value-add to the industry with ecologically appropriate and sustainable tourism operations within aquaculture farming zones by establishing low-key unique tourism experiences, such as the pavilion I saw at Coffin Bay. I did not dine on the platform myself, but I could see how unique an experience it would be to sit at a table on the water in view of an osprey’s nest, taste testing the world-renowned Coffin Bay oyster.
These experiences existing amongst the oyster farming operations, and I am told by oyster farmers, go a long way towards advertising Coffin Bay, for instance, and its mouth-watering oysters Australia wide, and they do so in that case with a very tiny footprint. Ten years ago, the indigenous Sydney rock oyster might have been the only oyster on menus around Australia, but today Coffin Bay oysters are recognised and renowned for their wonderful clean flavour and meaty texture. There is no doubt from the discussions I have had that these sorts of operations go a long way towards assisting in that process.
That industry we know is experiencing a hiccup due to a supply chain issue, but from the firsthand accounts I heard, they remain optimistic that they will come good in the future in the new year. It is a big hiccup leading up to Christmas and I hope the government is doing absolutely everything it can to support that industry during this time of need. It is not the first time they have found themselves in, as I said, tricky times, but I think overall they remain optimistic that they will come through this in a positive way.
The reason I talk about Coffin Bay is because I have just seen that pontoon there and it is supposed to apply to similar approval processes for similar pontoons there and elsewhere. The bill itself is aimed at streamlining those processes to create certainty for investors in aquaculture tourism developments and to ensure these developments are not unduly delayed by too many layers of red tape. Hopefully, the amendments will improve the regulatory processes for existing operators and support new and emerging businesses without any compromise to the environment or sustainability.
The EPA will still need to approve any conditions imposed as part of the approval process, and there will be risk mitigation plans in place, as I understand it, for public safety and environmental threats, such as waste disposal.
The EPA can recommend the inclusion of conditions to protect, for instance, the seabed, including obligations to rehabilitate a requirement for public liability insurance, ongoing maintenance, water and waste management, building certification and water quality monitoring as part of any approval. However, as I have noted and as other members have noted in their contributions, we have been told by the government that this process is meant to replace the current process that exists, and make it less cumbersome with a one-stop shop approach.
We know that the current licensing process is riddled with red tape and requires applicants to go through multiple government agencies, which is where I understand the time-consuming part of this process comes through. You may make one application to one agency and then six months later find out that you also had to make an application to another agency, and then find out that you had to make an application to another agency or department, so there is no streamlining of those processes.
The intent of this bill, when we talk about the one-stop shop, is to bring those all under the one umbrella, so that when you do make this application you are not surprised six or 12 months later by the need to make a further application, which you had not thought of or did not know that you needed to do before. That is my understanding of how this will work in practice, certainly based on the information we have received from the government.
These changes are aimed at addressing these issues without compromising existing protections. I am pleased there is a public notification process for aquaculture developments in the application stage, so that everyone is consulted and approved developments are appropriate and supported by the local community and industry alike.
I note that the changes are not retrospective as such, and my understanding is would not apply to those cases that have been given to us as examples. I think in the worst case scenario one application has been going on for about 18 months. That is not necessarily because approvals were not granted but because some of these steps were missed in terms of the approvals that needed to be granted during that process. The advice I have in terms of the retrospectivity of this bill is that it would not be retrospective but rather it would effectively allow those applicants to start that process again in a more streamlined manner.
The minister can confirm on the record whether that is in fact the case; that is certainly the information we have. It relates only to developments within existing aquaculture development zones, so it is not a carte blanche to start building restaurant pontoons up and down the South Australian coast—that is something that I do not think any of us would support in this place. It acknowledges the efforts of the aquaculture industry, which not only relies on our pristine waters for its existence but also plays such an integral role in protecting and preserving those very same waters and habitations from which they make a living.
I believe this is a positive initiative to support the huge potential of aquaculture and tourism industries in our state, and therefore indicate, as I did at the outset, our support for the proposal. I do acknowledge the contributions by my colleagues. It goes without saying that we will listen closely to the government’s responses to those questions that have been asked and remain hopeful that the concerns are appropriately addressed so that we can see the successful passage of this bill.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (15:48): I thank honourable members for their contributions to the second reading. Honourable members have raised some questions, and I will endeavour to provide responses upon advice from my adviser at clause 1 of the committee stage.
Bill read a second time.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I would like an answer to the Greens’ questions, and I am sure the Labor Party would like answers to their questions, too.
The ACTING CHAIR (Hon. I.K. Hunter): We will just take a moment for the adviser to enter the chamber.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I now have an adviser with me, so if I could ask the Hon. Ms Franks to put the questions, because I don’t have a copy of the questions that she asked during the second reading, and I will seek advice and try to provide an answer.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Why is this particular type of development being pulled out of the recently reformed planning system?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that under the current arrangements these projects or proposals have to go to two agencies. One is the Attorney-General’s Department and the other one could be a number of different agencies that actually control the seabed. Under the new arrangements that are proposed, a more administratively streamlined process, it will be one agency, which is to be PIRSA.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Will this be the same for other types of developments? Is this the start of a trend, or will this be the only industry that will be treated this way for the purposes of the new planning laws?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised it is only aquaculture related in relation to this legislation. In terms of whether there is a wider policy agenda of the government, I am not aware of any wider policy agenda. This is just addressing particular issues as it relates to the aquaculture industry.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Why are PIRSA not able to streamline this for the industry and in fact act as the one-stop shop themselves to negotiate the bureaucracy and the different legislation without the need for the passage of specific, standalone legislation?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that under the current legislation it is not actually accepted as aquaculture under the definition at the moment. Therefore, PIRSA are not in a position to be able to undertake the process that the honourable member proposes or envisages.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I would also like to thank the minister in the other place for the briefing that was provided to the opposition. While some answers were provided to questions that were taken on notice from that briefing way back in, I think, May or early June, we would like to have them on public record, so we will be asking some of them again here. Is this bill supported by the EPA (Environment Protection Authority)?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised yes.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Is there any written document that indicates that?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised there are probably emails or correspondence that relate to that, but I do not think that anyone from the EPA or anywhere else is contesting the fact that they have indicated support for it. I do not have a copy of a document or a letter with me at the moment, but I am advised, yes, there is clearly somewhere in the department an indication of support from the EPA.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: My next question is in regard to consultation and the Hon. Tammy Franks also alluded to this in her second reading speech. There was a list provided in the other place of who had been consulted with and the minister said—I am not quoting, I am paraphrasing—there had not been specific consultation with conservation groups. Has that now occurred and, for the record, for this chamber, could the Treasurer outline who has been consulted with on this bill?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that, as the member was advised some time ago and I think the Hon. Ms Franks indicated as well, the consultation was with the EPA, the Department for Environment and Water, the Department for Infrastructure and Transport and the Attorney-General’s Department in the drafting. So to the specific question of consultation with, broadly, conservation groups, the answer is no.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: So just to clarify, since the question was put a full 12 weeks ago in the other place, there still has not been any consultation with conservation groups; is that correct?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: That is my advice. Whether or not there have been submissions made by conservation groups at all, I am not sure. But in terms of: has there been another round of consultation by the government, which I think is the question by the Hon. Ms Franks, which involved a range of other groups including conservation groups and others, my advice is the answer to that is no.
It may well be that some of those groups may have made submissions either in support or opposition, I do not know about that, but that is not the honourable member’s question. The Hon. Ms Franks’ question, as I understand it, is has the government engaged in another round of consultation with the broader group involving conservation groups and the answer to that, I am advised, is no.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I appreciate the answer, and that is clear in regard to former consultation. I guess my question comes to one part of the Treasurer’s response, that there may well be those who are in opposition. So my question is, have there been any submissions received, either formally or informally, from groups or bodies who oppose this legislation in full or in part?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised the answer to that is no.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Why, in the three months since this bill was before the other place, has there been no consultation with conservation groups?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I can only assume that the minister, the department and the government believe that the consultation process entered into as outlined was sufficient in relation to it. The judgement was made that there was no need or requirement to consult other groups, including conservation groups, so I cannot provide any further detail than that. The answer to the question is there was not any, so I am advised, and I am assuming that is because the minister, the department and the government made a judgement call that nothing further was required.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: It has been indicated that the government consulted with the Department for Environment and Water, the EPA, the Department for Infrastructure and Transport and the Attorney-General’s Department. Basically, the government consulted with the government. Did the government even consult with the industry on this bill?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised the answer to that is yes.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Given one of my questions was, ‘Which stakeholders were consulted on with regard to this bill?’, can the minister now enlighten the council on who was consulted with regard to this bill other than the government?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: My adviser and I are not aware of the specific names of the representatives of the industry who have been consulted. My adviser is aware that the South Australian Oyster Growers Association is one of the groups that has been consulted, but as to the names of the others that represent the aquaculture industry, I am advised that the aquaculture industry has been consulted and is supportive.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: When were the South Australian Oyster Growers Association consulted? Were they consulted on a draft of the bill or the bill itself that we have before the parliament? What other stakeholders in the industry were consulted?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: As I indicated, I am not in a position to indicate what other stakeholders were consulted, other than the industry. In terms of the dates of consultation, I cannot assist the member as to the precise dates of the consultation for the South Australian Oyster Growers Association either.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Can the Treasurer outline what kind of structures are envisaged to be able to be constructed if this bill passes this place?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am told that the restriction is that it complements and provides a benefit to aquaculture. Further detail may be provided by way of regulation, should the legislation be successful.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: At this stage—but of course we do not have regulations before us—what confidence can you provide to those who have concerns that there will not be inappropriate structures or large structures? In that same light, can you give some examples at least of the types that you think would be approved under this?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am told that the two that exist at the moment are referred to as water tasting platforms, which is sort of like a bench or a platform that goes out into the sea. So, clearly, to answer the question as to what might be approved, those sorts of similar structures and developments may well be approved under the proposals, but again it comes back to the definition of something that complements and benefits aquaculture. As to the specifics of what examples exist, they are the examples that exist: water tasting platforms. There are two of those at the moment.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Echoing one of my second reading speech questions and noting that the Labor opposition seem to have received different answers in their briefing than the Greens received in our briefing on this matter, will these structures have to be demountable?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised, yes, they are not permanent structures.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Could you point to what part of the legislation ensures that they must be demountable? I am aware, of course, that current aquaculture leases must be, I think, no more than 30 years. So that might be, in fact, an implied suggestion that they are not going to be 20-storey hotel buildings. Where in the legislation does it say that they must be demountable?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that, similar to existing aquaculture leases, there is an existing condition that the lease must be rehabilitated. That is an existing condition of an aquaculture lease. That condition, that it has to be rehabilitated, means that, clearly, if the structure is going to be rehabilitated, it would need to be demountable.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: So seeking further clarification on that and perhaps two points. One, is that in each individual lease, or is it in the existing act? Perhaps I will ask one question at a time, so I will ask that and then I have a follow-up in a moment.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised it is a condition of existing leases, and each lease.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: So what requires that to be a condition of each lease? Is that a legislative requirement in the existing Aquaculture Act, is my question?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I do not have parliamentary counsel with me here to advise. It is an existing condition of the aquaculture lease, and the proposal from the government is to continue it. There is no suggestion to the alternative, so I am told.
In relation to what the head power is back in the legislation for that to have existed in the aquaculture leases in the first place, as I understand it, I was advised, no-one has challenged the fact that that is an existing condition of an existing lease. No-one is challenging the legal authority to have that in the existing leases that are there, and the proposal is just to continue that particular arrangement, so I am advised.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Thank you for that response. My concern is we are currently changing the legislation, so my question is around whether leases going forward would therefore necessarily have that provision in them.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised the change is in legislation, not changing whatever legal authority exists for the existing conditions in leases to continue.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The second part of the question arose from the Treasurer’s previous answer, where he is saying that the requirement is that the lease must be rehabilitated. In non-aquaculture developments there are certain opportunities. If I can use an analogy, bearing in mind obviously the limitations to that analogy, when someone re-leases a shop or an office, it needs to then be essentially returned to its original condition at the end of that lease, but that does not stop one doing a shop fit-out or an office fit-out.
My question is really, I guess, around the understanding and if there is a formal definition of ‘rehabilitated’. My whole point being: how can we be assured that the biggest development that could occur under this legislation would be something such as a tasting table?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I have not said that the biggest development that could occur is a tasting platform. The member asked if we can give an example, because the response to the earlier question was that it had to complement and benefit the aquaculture industry. The member then asked, ‘Can you at least give us an example?’ So I gave an example. I would not want the member to infer from that that I said that was the biggest. If something complements and benefits the aquaculture industry then it would comply with the legislation.
I am not sure what else I can do to provide assurance to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition other than what I have already placed on the record in relation to the member’s questions on this particular area. I have no further information that I can provide that provides any greater detail in relation to the honourable member’s series of questions.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The crux of what I am trying to get at, which I think is the basis of the concerns of those who have raised them, is on one hand we can be clear that some things will not be possible. A 30-storey hotel, I think we can probably all agree, is not likely to get through this process, and then we have a water tasting platform, but there is such a wide range of potential developments from those two extremes.
Where is, if you like, the upper limit of what can be approved through this? Who determines what complements or provides a benefit, and how can people be reassured that this legislation will not allow development of a type that is not envisaged when people think of, for example, a tasting platform?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I cannot answer that question to the degree of specificity that the member is seeking—what is the exact upper limit—because I cannot envisage what the nature of structures might be that fit within the definition of ‘complements and benefits the aquaculture industry’. The member has outlined the extremes. I am not going to argue with the extremes, but as to providing a midpoint cut-off point, I am not in a position to provide that degree of clarity for the member.
The minister has to agree. I am told the EPA has to agree. The EPA is independent of the government. It obviously has to take into consideration, if people are concerned about the size of the structure, what the impact might be on the marine environment and the like. The EPA has demonstrated its capacity to speak out on particular issues, whether or not they are in accord with departmental or government views on occasions, so that is the sort of safety net or check that is envisaged in relation to the system.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I think that is where some of the concern lies. We do indeed want a safety net, and we want that safety net to be robust, but there seems to be very little detail forthcoming as to how that will actually occur. I will give an example. Perhaps there are existing toilets and a group of transportable buildings for accommodation is proposed. From what we can tell from the debate in the other place, that would not necessarily trigger a referral to the EPA. When we get to those clauses, we might have some further questions around that.
That is simply an example. I appreciate the difficulties of hypotheticals. I am not trying to be difficult; I am trying to get clarity so that those who have concerns can be reassured that they are not a problem or can raise further questions. My question is: would something like a group of transportable buildings that does not involve additional toilets be potentially able to be approved under this legislation if it passes?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I just cannot answer the hypothetical questions that the member is putting. Ultimately, it is a judgement call for this parliament to take. If the parliament is unhappy with the lack of specificity, the parliament will have to endeavour to put in, to quote an earlier question from the member, what the upper limit of the structures is that she envisages.
Good luck with contemplating all the various aquaculture projects or structures that might be proposed that might complement and benefit the aquaculture industry and drafting appropriate words in legislation to draw a clear line as to what is in and what is out. That is an extremely challenging task, but if ultimately that is the position of the opposition and other members in this chamber then so be it.
The legislation will need to be delayed, as the Hon. Ms Franks has canvassed, until next year, and these sorts of potential benefits to the aquaculture industry in terms of jobs in regional areas in the tourism sector can be put on ice for another 12 months. That is ultimately a judgement call the Hon. Ms Scriven and others can take in relation to whether the legislation progresses or not. It is the government’s view that there are worthwhile projects out there that can have an appropriate balance in terms of environmental protection and promotion of jobs in regional areas, in particular, for regional communities. The government believes it has the balance right.
If ultimately this chamber does not believe the balance is right, as I said, as the Hon. Ms Franks at least canvassed, the legislation can be delayed for another year. Someone can try to draw a line as to what the exact shape and structure of an aquaculture development that is acceptable to members opposite might be, but it would be an extremely challenging drafting task.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I reiterate, and just follow on from the opposition deputy leader’s question. The minister has mentioned that it is a condition, once tourism development use envisaged under this legislation has reached its end, that the site must be returned to its original state. I am going to pre-empt that I will be asking about the ecological sustainability requirements of this legislation in just a minute, but what if that original state was already very degraded? Will there be an expectation that its simply degraded state will be enough, or will it be actually rehabilitated to ensure that ecological sustainability that the bill also holds as an ideal?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: If I understand the honourable member’s question, if an area is already partially degraded—and I presume by that the honourable member is talking about in terms of the conditions of the marine environment, for example—it is not going to be the proposition that someone who for a period of time has put in an aquaculture development and has a structure there by rehabilitation will have to remove the structure. They will not actually have to take responsibility for decades of marine environment downgrading that others have been responsible for. If that is the proposition of the Hon. Ms Franks it is an interesting one, but it is not one the government subscribes to.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: That brings me to the next question. During the minister’s contribution, and indeed our briefings, there were several references to aquaculture tourism developments needing to be ecologically sustainable. How is the criteria for ecological sustainability defined in this legislation, how will the government measure it, and how will it enforce it?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised there is already a definition under the Aquaculture Act of an ecologically sustainable development.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I do have more questions and I note that I did ask questions in the second reading and it would be usual for the second reading summation to have responded to a lot of those questions. I find it quite disappointing that the government treats this with such flippancy that it did not have the respect for the council to answer those questions before we proceeded into the committee stage.
I note, also, that the Conservation Council has not been consulted on this and yet we have just had a little lecture from the Treasurer to the opposition and I believe to myself as a crossbencher, if not all the crossbenchers, that apparently, should we adjourn this for proper answers to be provided, it would be next year. I note that we could come back next week, we could come back in February, we could come back well before April/May 2022.
I also note that, while we have been lectured on appropriate balance, no NGOs in the environmental sector or the Conservation Council were consulted about this bill. In fact, we might have quite a few more answers had they been consulted. I have had some communications with Craig Wilkins of the Conservation Council while I have been asking these questions and he certainly queries why this bill is being rushed through. I am sure he probably queries why the Conservation Council was not consulted.
I just received a trite answer to how ecological sustainability will be measured and enforced in this legislation and indeed simply defined in this legislation. We have not had an answer for why it is being removed from the planning act, other than to somehow streamline bureaucracy and provide a one-stop shop.
Beyond that, we have been given no clarity as to where the urgent need was to provide this one-stop shop, why the review could not be part of the planning act or other reviews, and come to us properly consulted with the ability for the minister—albeit the acting minister, the minister representing the minister in the other place—to answer questions that are simple questions, even to the point that you cannot even tell me who in the industry, other than the SA oyster association, has been consulted from the industry. With that, I move to report progress.
|Bourke, E.S.||Franks, T.A. (teller)||Hanson, J.E.|
|Hunter, I.K.||Maher, K.J.||Ngo, T.T.|
|Pnevmatikos, I.||Scriven, C.M.||Simms, R.A.|
|Bonaros, C.||Centofanti, N.J.||Darley, J.A.|
|Girolamo, H.M.||Hood, D.G.E.||Lee, J.S.|
|Lensink, J.M.A.||Lucas, R.I. (teller)||Pangallo, F.|
|Stephens, T.J.||Wade, S.G.|
Motion thus negatived.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I would just like to put on the record that I had been about to ask a question about timing. It is important to put on the record that this was introduced in the other place in May but not passed until 7 September in the other place. The Hon. Mr Lucas gave his second reading explanation in this place on 9 September, which I think is a full 12 weeks since it was slated to come for debate, yet we are having the second reading for everyone else today and then taking it through to a vote. My question would be: why has it taken so long to get here if it is of such vital importance to regional jobs, as the Treasurer indicated?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Because the government has given every opportunity to the Labor Party and the crossbenchers to inform themselves, to consult and to form a view one way or another in relation to the legislation. If the opposition and crossbenchers do not support the legislation, they are perfectly entitled to vote it down.
As the member has indicated, it is not as though this bill has been rushed through, as was suggested earlier. This bill was introduced in May. I think the member—correct me if I am wrong—indicated that it was introduced in this chamber almost two months ago, in September. It is hardly the definition of rushing a piece of legislation through the parliament or even this chamber.
The opposition and crossbenchers have had plenty of time to inform themselves as to whether or not they support the legislation and whether or not they want to move amendments, and they are perfectly entitled, if they so wish, to vote against the legislation. But as I said, it is the government’s view that we think the legislation is an appropriate balance, and we want to see regional jobs in regional communities. If the Hon. Ms Scriven and others do not want to see regional jobs in regional communities, then let them vote accordingly.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Point of order, Chair: the Treasurer is impugning improper motive on behalf of the opposition and crossbenchers. I think that he should be asked to withdraw, and I ask him to withdraw.
The Hon. R.P. Wortley interjecting:
The CHAIR: The Hon. Mr Wortley, I do not need your help. I do not consider that the Treasurer has done that, but I think the Treasurer ought to bring himself back to the nub of the questions that are being asked. Extensive questions have been asked, and I think we are canvassing a number of different issues, and I ask the Treasurer to continue that without perhaps moving off the topic.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Point of order, Chair: he said that the opposition and the crossbenchers do not support the tourism industry. I think that is impugning improper motive, and I ask him to withdraw.
The CHAIR: I will invite the Treasurer, if he wishes, to withdraw that remark.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: No, I do not.
The CHAIR: I will invite the Treasurer to continue. No—you have finished responding? Next question, the Hon. Ms Franks.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: It has been revealed that no NGOs or environmental stakeholders have been consulted in the three months between the time that this bill was in the lower house until we now debate it today, yet the minister has had ample opportunity. I also note that they were not consulted in the drafting of the bill. However, proposed section 58B negates the application of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016. This is actually quite concerning—and the Conservation Council has raised this concern with me because clearly the government have not listened to them—as the only referral to the Coast Protection Board is via that act. Surely the Coast Protection Board should have been another essential referral agency. Can you explain why the Coast Protection Board were not consulted on this piece of legislation?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I cannot provide any further advice in relation to why various other bodies were not consulted, including the Coast Protection Board. As I said in relation to the series of earlier questions, I can indicate on advice which bodies were consulted but, as the member has highlighted, bodies including conservation groups and others were not consulted. I cannot provide a reason other than the one I provided on the record earlier in relation to why they were not consulted.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Can a definition of ‘tourism activity’ be provided by the government? Proposed section 58A just refers to ‘building work’. This is a concerning precedent, as there could be any number of types of aquaculture ventures that could be proposed in the name of tourism. Will this legislation only enable building work, or are other broader definitions of ‘tourism activity’ envisaged?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I can only refer the honourable member to the definitions under the act, which are, ‘commercial tourism activity means a tourism activity undertaken for fee or reward’, and ‘building work has the same meaning as in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016’. Other than those two clear definitions, I cannot offer any greater clarity than what is envisaged under those definitions.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I would just note that, given the Treasurer’s statement in regard to this being introduced in May, it is rather surprising then that the government cannot provide answers to questions that are being raised both by the opposition and the Greens. Could the Treasurer outline how tourism structures in aquaculture zones have been approved to date?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: As I outlined before, there are two separate authorities under the current arrangement. This proposal is to streamline the process with one. So it would have been under the Attorney-General’s Department, the planning section of that, and whichever other second authority controlled the particular seabed. That can be, I understand, a number of different agencies. Currently, there are two separate authorities that need to provide approval. This process is to try to streamline it and reduce some of the red tape by making it the responsibility of one authority.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: How many tourism structures in aquaculture zones have been approved to date?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: As I advised earlier, my advice was that there had been two. These were those water tasting platforms that I referred to in response to an earlier question.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Just for clarification, the Treasurer is saying that they both have gone through the approval process; is that correct?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised they are currently going through a development approval process, albeit they evidently exist.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Is the government concerned that there are currently two ventures operating, it would appear from what the Treasurer has just said, without authority?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: If that is the case I would be concerned, but they are evidently seeking retrospective development approval, so I am advised. The process is they have to go through two authorities and that is what they are going through in terms of seeking approval.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Proposed section 58F(1)(c)—concurrence required—does this apply to land underlying waters proclaimed as marine parks?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that the Minister for Transport owns the seabed in a marine park so, in that particular case, it would be the Minister for Transport.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: That answers the question of which minister the concurrence was required from. So it does not require the concurrence of the Minister for Environment, it requires the concurrence of the Minister for Transport; is that the case? Clearly, we are not getting answers, Chair. I will move on to another question: is DEW a compulsory referral agency for any of these proposals?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised no and that is consistent with how aquaculture is currently regulated under the current Aquaculture Act.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Following on from that, who will pick up any threatened species or any marine pests or marine protected area implications?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Pick up?
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Yes.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: What do you mean by pick up?
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: How will those issues be addressed?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that PIRSA, under that ecologically sustainable development definition, has to have responsibility. Whilst it is not mandated, they can—and it is envisaged that they may well do so—refer those types of issues for advice from DEW, but it is not mandated.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Are there any penalties if they do not do that?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: If it is not mandated, there would not be penalties.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Given it is not mandated, how will it happen?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Just as I explained to the honourable member; that is, the PIRSA department, under this proposal, has the responsibility for ecologically sustainable development so they have to make the call, and it may well be that they choose in certain circumstances to seek advice from DEW. That is how it would happen.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Very good, Chair. This is the bill that was not sent out to the environmental stakeholders for any consultation, but we are now told, ‘Trust us. We will consult on the environment, even though we are not mandated to. There will be no penalty for not doing so and there are no safeguards.’ Indeed, it does not seem to be thought through whatsoever.
Under clause 4 and proposed section 58C, it is an offence to carry out aquaculture tourism development. Under this section that offence is created if someone undertakes aquaculture tourism development unless authorised to do so. However, while newly inserted 58I covers the removal of unauthorised development there does not seem to be any reference to the person responsible for the unauthorised development being required to remediate any environmental damage that may have occurred as a result. What is the government’s plan should environmental damage occur as the result of an unauthorised aquaculture tourism development?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that under 58I—Removal of unauthorised development, covers the issue of unauthorised developments and there are clear requirements there by way of written notice from the minister to the persons who might have been responsible.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Can the minister clarify whether that simply covers the removal of that unauthorised development or goes further to ensure that the environmental damage that may have been inflicted is actually addressed and remediated?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: If the honourable member would like to look at subclause (a), which says to remove it, and then (b), which says ‘reinstate and rehabilitate the area of the development’.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: For the record, could the Treasurer advise: is the current application process for development approval to the planning department and a seabed licence, which we have heard is to the Department for Infrastructure and Transport, concurrent or sequential?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: To clarify, as I understand the honourable member’s question, it was the current process and my advice is that it is really up to the proponent. There is nothing that prevents them from concurrently, to use the member’s word, going through that process, or they could do it sequentially, if they so chose.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: So in what way then would this proposed legislation speed up the process if currently applicants can apply at the same time for approval?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: All I can say is that, if you are an applicant with a proposal and you only have to deal with one government agency, as opposed to two separate government agencies, the general view from people who are making applications to government agencies is that it is a more streamlined process if you only have to go to one agency in terms of getting your requirements, as opposed to having to go to two separate agencies.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: But is it not the case that in a number of proposed aquaculture tourism developments PIRSA would then need to go to another department and therefore it would not necessarily be any quicker?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I think this is not the only area where the concept of a one-stop shop or facilitating agency or coordinating agency has been developed, not only under this government but under former governments as well. We can all have our view as to the efficacy of what is being proposed and, as I said, it is entirely up to members to make a judgement call about that. It is the government’s view that this is a more streamlined process. It reduces red tape and the industry is supportive of it. We can only urge members of the chamber to agree with that particular position or not.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Again for the record, what are the application and annual fees for development approval and a seabed licence under current arrangements and what are the proposed application and annual fees under the aquaculture bill?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am told there is a scale of fees. I think under the planning act there is an application fee and a scale of fees and under seabed licensing there is a scale of fees and annual fees, not application fees. The government’s proposal is to not increase significantly the fee, it is to keep the fees in and around the same order of magnitude as they are at the moment. Under the planning act, as the member is probably aware, it varies depending on the scale of the development.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: In a letter to myself, as shadow minister, from the minister, the government stated:
…and by policy decision these costs will not exceed existing application and annual fees as apply under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act.
For the public record, could you please confirm three things. First, can you confirm that the minimum fees for development approval will not increase under this new proposed system?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I cannot give that guarantee, because there is normally a Treasury indexation rate for all fees and charges that goes up, which the former government used and the government current uses. There is a standard indexation rate, but my advice is that is the proposition from the government—it would be indexed at the usual indexation rate.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Again, for the public record, can you confirm that the annual fees for seabed licences will not increase under this new proposed system, other than an annual indexation rate?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that that is the policy position of the minister and the government. As I indicated earlier, we are not seeing this as a significant revenue-raising opportunity. It is something there to try to assist the industry with a streamlined process, to promote regional jobs and worthwhile developments.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Finally, again for the record, can the Treasurer confirm there will be no additional types of fees introduced in relation to aquaculture tourism?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Again, my advice is the government is not proposing any additional fees, to answer the member’s question.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: At clause 5, what is the threshold for referral to the EPA?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: My advice is that at this stage the government’s position is that all applications are to go to the EPA, but there is a provision there if the EPA, for example, came back and said they did not want to consider applications below a certain threshold, that there is the capacity for that. The government’s position at this stage is to provide all developments to the EPA. If we are talking about a modest number of potential developments, I cannot imagine the EPA is going to object to it.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Can the Treasurer confirm that if the EPA does not give approval, the development will not go ahead?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that the minister takes advice from the EPA but it is not a veto right from the EPA.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Some questions were asked in the other place but, as I mentioned, that was a full 12 weeks ago so I seek some clarifications and further updates. What lead time is needed to change these processes?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that there is no specific time line. My responses to some questions have referred to regulations. They will need to be developed so, I think as with most legislation, as soon as the regulations are able to be completed the government will be intent on proceeding at pace.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The second reading speech of the minister in the other place stated:
PIRSA will then progressively review all current aquaculture zone policies and consult with industry to determine if any relevant provisions governing aquaculture-associated tourism developments are required and, if so, undertake the prescribed amendment process…
Will consultation expand to include environmental groups, or will it be limited only to industry, as appears to have been the case with the draft bill?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that there is a prescribed process, as I understand it, for consultation for those sorts of zones and policies and some conservation groups are part of that prescribed process.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: In the other place, the minister indicated that ‘the Lower Eyre Peninsula policy is being reviewed. There is no defined time frame on the review of these policies, but it is an ongoing process.’ Where is that review at now?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: The answer to the previous question is really the same as this one, that is, where that one is in particular, I understand that is just ongoing. There is no prescribed time line as to when they have to be concluded. I think there are 12 zones. There are 12 zones, so these things are going to take a period of time and there is no time limit within which that particular policy review has to be concluded.
Clause 3 passed.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: In section 58A, in the preliminary, there is the definition:
aquaculture tourism development authorisation means an authorisation for aquaculture tourism development granted under section 58D(1).
That is what I am referring to. How many aquaculture licence holders does the government anticipate applying for tourism development approval over the first 12 months, two years and five years?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: That is not a question that I can have an answer for or can provide an answer for. It is really not something within the knowledge of the department or the government.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I am not expecting any specific guarantees, but given the minister has referred to regional jobs and a boom and so on, and because the government is giving time and resources to have this bill progressed, I imagine they must have some kind of expectation around how many might be applied for, or indeed how many potential operators have approached them, which has resulted in this bill coming forward.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: There is no time or resources being devoted to debating this particular bill. We are here legislating and we are required to be here and we just happen to be debating this bill. I do not think we need to worry about time and resources being devoted to debating this particular piece of legislation. I have nothing further to add in relation to the number that the government or the department might expect to take up the opportunities that might be provided for if this legislation passes.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The bill, of course, only allows for aquaculture tourism development within aquaculture zones. What is the impact for aquaculture operators who are not in aquaculture zones? Has the possibility of extending this type of process or one-stop shop beyond the zones been considered, and do you have any concerns about competitive disadvantage for those who are not in aquaculture zones and who therefore cannot access this expected one-stop shop?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that over 80 per cent of aquaculture licences are in the zone, so it is a minority that are outside the zones. Those that are outside the zones would go through the current process in terms of planning approval and whatever the seabed authority licence process is, which is the current requirement.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: That leads to the second part of my question, which was around competitive disadvantage for those that are not in aquaculture zones. What is the government’s view on that?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Clearly, the government’s view is that we are trying to provide a more streamlined process that reduces red tape. If that provides some advantage to those within zones, it is the end product of the government’s proposition. My advice is that those who are outside the zones do not have access to what is being proposed and whether that leads to a significant or insignificant competitive disadvantage I guess will be a judgement call for the individual operators.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: This question was addressed in part at clause 1, but I want to specifically address it here in regard to section 58F. This is the section which says that:
(1) The power of the Minister to grant an aquaculture tourism development authorisation, a tourism lease or a tourism licence in relation to certain land is subject to—
(a) if the land is vested in the Minister responsible for the administration of the Harbors and Navigation Act 1993, the requirement under section 15 of that Act for the concurrence of that Minister; and
(b) if the land is vested in any other entity, the concurrence of that other entity; and
(c) the concurrence of any other entity that may be responsible for the care, control and management of the land.
That is a fairly lengthy way of asking: how does this streamline the process and cut red tape if the primary industries minister will still need to refer to the EPA and still get the concurrence of the minister responsible for the Harbours and Navigation Act, which is the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport? I appreciate that for the applicant it may be easier to be going just to PIRSA, but how will it actually cut red tape if there is still a requirement for the primary industries minister to go to both the EPA and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: The honourable member is right: we did address this question earlier, and that is, I guess, the argument for one-stop shops or facilitation and coordination agencies or bodies and, that is, there will be one body, PIRSA, responsible for facilitating and coordinating the application process. It is the government’s view and clearly the industry’s view that that is preferable to the current process.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I appreciate and in fact agree that that may well be preferable to the current process, but what actual steps of the process are removed? There does not seem to be any being removed, notwithstanding the fact that the applicant does not have to see all of those other processes. How is red tape being lessened?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I cannot offer much more than I have just offered and what I offered earlier, and that is the industry obviously believes, and so too does the government, that this streamlines the process and reduces the red tape by having PIRSA as the agency which helps facilitate or coordinate, on behalf of or with the applicant, the process of government. I know in many other areas, coordinating or facilitating roles in terms of managing various application processes to more than one department and/or government agency is generally supported by industry sectors. It is therefore unsurprising that this industry sector is supportive of the government’s proposal to streamline this particular process.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: Can the Treasurer just confirm, based on the advice that we have had and the contribution I made earlier, and referring back to the question of the Hon. Clare Scriven, that in some instances we have had applicants who have actually subsequently found out that they ought to have gone to another agency for different approval and did not do that at the outset, so they might be six months or eight months, whatever the case may be, into one process before they are then advised that they have to go to another agency for another set of approvals, and that is part of the problem that is causing the blowout in time frames?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Yes, just confirming the honourable member’s understanding of an earlier discussion that we had that these two current water tasting platform developments or structures are those sorts of examples where they are now retrospectively seeking approvals, which they should have got under the existing act at a much earlier stage.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: In regard to section 58G, which is in regard to public notice, in the other place the question was asked—I am paraphrasing—’Why has the requirement for newspaper advertisements been removed?’, because in the bill it is now appropriate to advertise in either a website or a newspaper, not as well as a newspaper. In the other place the minister said that it is the same as is in the current Aquaculture Act. I have not been able to find that provision. I am happy to be corrected if it is there; if it is there, could you direct me to that provision in the current act?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that it is subsection 35(3):
A public call for applications must be made by notice published on a website determined by the Minister or in a newspaper circulating generally in the State and may be advertised in any other manner that the Minister thinks fit.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Thank you, I appreciate that answer. No further questions at clause 4.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The bill allows for referral to the Environment Protection Authority to determine whether an aquaculture tourism development or variation should be approved. In earlier questions from, I think, the Hon. Ms Franks, she asked what was the threshold for referral to the EPA, and the Treasurer said—I think I am not misquoting—that at this stage the intention of the government is that all applications would go to the EPA. Can I clarify that that is simply an intention or policy of government and not a requirement within the bill that we are currently discussing, and therefore it is not necessary for it to be adhered to?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised that it is a requirement of the bill that they all go there. The provision the Hon. Ms Franks raised earlier is that there is the opportunity for the EPA at some stage to come back and say, I assume, ‘Hey, we are getting too many and we don’t think we need to get ones that are so small they are underneath a particular threshold,’ or something. But it is a current requirement, I am advised, for all of them to go to the EPA.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I would like further clarification, because clause 5(4) states:
Section 59—after subsection (1a) insert:
(1b) Subsection (1) does not apply in the case of an aquaculture tourism development authorisation of a class approved by the EPA as not having, or being unlikely to have, an adverse effect on the environment.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: To assist, that is the provision to which we were referring earlier; that is, at this stage the EPA obviously has not done that. At this stage, the answer to the honourable member’s question is that all of them have to go to the EPA, but if the EPA came back and said, ‘Hey, there’s this threshold,’ where they do not want to see these particular developments, then they have the capacity to do that, but that is a decision of the EPA.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Section 59(7), to paraphrase, provides that if the EPA does not respond within the period allowed it is taken to have agreed. How does that compare to the current situation if the EPA does not respond? And just for reference, I did ask this question at the briefing we were given, but the answer was not contained in the letter that I received.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am advised the answer to that question is it is exactly the same provision as exists under the current Aquaculture Act.
Remaining clauses (6 to 10 ) and title passed.
Bill reported without amendment.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (17:11): I move:
That this bill be now read a third time.
Bill read a third time and passed.