Grievance Debate - Chaffey

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:51): I rise to speak on a couple of exciting issues that are happening not only within this place but up in the electorate of Chaffey. The Riverland floodplains are awash at the moment with high flows, and the nine year Riverine Recovery Project has released its final report. It is an $88.3 million project which has delivered across multiple phases of the floodplain system, particularly around the Riverland floodplain network. The report shows that the 7.24 gigalitres of water that have been returned to the environment are working.

What we are currently seeing is three Riverland floodplains, Chowilla, Pike and Katarapko, all operating simultaneously. That is the first time in modern history that this has happened. What we are seeing at the moment is life being bred back into the wildlife, with an outrageous amount of wildlife that is now being exposed. The trees are regenerating. We are seeing saplings start to take off again. Those floodplains that had been dry, particularly Pike, for nearly 16 years are now receiving a drink, allowing those native plants to flourish.

We have 30,000 megalitres a day coming across the border at the moment. Storage is full and South Australia is set up for a fantastic opportunity when it comes to the river environment, the health of the river and people visiting the Riverland. I am calling on every South Australian to go up to the Riverland and have a look at the outstanding water flows that we are currently seeing. The natural environment has absolutely sprung into life. Go up there, catch a fish and have a great time and be hosted by some of the great Riverland businesses.

I would also like to pay respect to you, Mr Deputy Speaker. We came into this place together, elected in 2010. There are many similarities between you and I coming into this place. We were preselected about 18 months out before the election, we are both off the land, we are both of a similar age, and we both have similar size families. I think we both have similar life beliefs. I think the genuineness that you have brought to this place is something I use as a benchmark, and I think you should hold your head high that you have withstood the test of time with a sense of honesty and as a gentleman in this place.

Some have called you the Prince of Edililie. Some have said that the local member has just been that real genuine guy who, as a farmer become politician, is now heading home back to the farm, back to his family, and to spend a bit more time down at Coffin Bay. I know that along the way you have purchased and are about to set up a small little love shack on the coast there so that you can enjoy some of the fruits of life.

Of course, you have had a little bit of hardship in recent times with the passing of your mother, Wendy. I noticed that your dad, Brian, your wife, Annette, and your kids were in here the other day. Congratulations to Madeleine on her second child, your second grandchild. I am sure that both Leo and Flynn will be a focus for you.

Over the times, I had many visits to Flinders. Passing one another in the corridors, as I would pass you, 'G'day, Flinders,' you would reply, 'G'day, Chaffey,' and that would then start that conversation. I know your favourite number is 164. It could be kilometres an hour, or it could be just a number—I am not sure. On the times I went over to Flinders to visit you in an official capacity— whether it be a regional person, whether it be a minister or whether it be a friend—Friday nights, family pizza night, were always great nights and you would expel some wisdom when we had a conversation.

I must say that you have found a very good niche in this place, sir, as Chair of Committees and Deputy Speaker. I congratulate you on your performance. I congratulate you on the way you have held yourself and on the respect you have on both sides of the house. Not only do I go over to visit you but of course there is Wally the great fisherman, and the Henderson family over at Elliston are also very good friends.

You will be missed, but our friendship will continue because the West Coast is one of my favourite places. That is your home, and that is a place where I will again rendezvous with you to have a quiet tipple or maybe get you out in a boat to catch a fish. Good luck to you, and your family will be the beneficiaries of your resigning today.

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