Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (14:22): My question is to the Premier. Is the government now prioritising recovery efforts in the Riverland over preventative action and, if so, why? With your leave, sir, and that of the house, I will explain.
Mr WHETSTONE: This morning, the Premier announced that he would visit the Riverland next week to make a series of recovery announcements with no mention of preventative action. The opposition has received advice from the local members that river communities are confused about what preventative action is being taken to protect their homes and businesses and why the Premier's announcements have been delayed yet another week.
The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: My offer stands available to the member for Chaffey to engage with the government at any opportunity that he sees fit because we are trying to do our level best under a difficult set of circumstances. Nobody in this chamber—and I hope this is true for the member for Chaffey—wants to see anything but a concerted effort across politics, across levels of government to do everything we can.
Last week, I had the great opportunity to be able to engage with local government and a range of community members in the Riverland about the substantial work that has been undertaken by the state government in collaboration with local government in Riverland communities to prepare for the water that is coming. What do we know, Mr Speaker? Only moments ago, we were able to update the people of South Australia with the information that we are in receipt of only today that the modelling forecasts now for the probable amount of water will go from 165 gigalitres a day to 175 gigalitres a day. We had a press conference immediately prior to the commencement of question time.
The good news for the Riverland is that the lower probability scenarios have remained the same, so those forecasts have not gone up. Nonetheless, every time we hear about a new model coming down the line it causes a moment of pause—I think was the term I used earlier today—because it has resulted in a revision upwards. Thankfully, that 175 gigalitres a day forecast, should that end up being accurate, is still at a level that is below the critical number of 210 gigalitres a day, which is important for the Renmark community for which the levee is designed to withstand.
The principal effort that the state government is engaging with, with a substantial contribution from state Treasury, is to invest in the maintenance of the building up of that levee in and around Renmark. Renmark, as the member for Chaffey knows better than anyone, being the lowest lying community in the Riverland is the most vulnerable to those water levels rising. The levee hasn't been maintained as well as it should have, and that has been a challenge for successive governments. Nonetheless, we made it clear from the moment we were in receipt of this information it would be all hands on deck without any consideration about whether or not it's a local government responsibility or a state government responsibility to throw all the resources we have at our disposal.
I am sure the member for Chaffey has had the opportunity, like I have, to go on the frontline and see that work is being undertaken. That is only the beginning. There is other work that the SES has been doing at an extraordinary pace, principally through the effort of volunteers, to provide a whole range of information. There have been community meetings and sandbag provision efforts. There is no shortage of sandbags. The state government is in possession of a vast quantity of sandbags, and there are a lot more on the way. We are happy to provide more detail about that if there are any more questions on it.
I will be on the ground again on Tuesday in the Riverland. I invite the member for Chaffey to accompany me at all those meetings that are currently being arranged. I am more than happy to provide the member for Chaffey with the full details of my schedule. He is welcome to be with me and the officials and advocate for his community as he reasonably should, because we want to do everything we can. I am conscious I have gone over time, but I more than happy to explain in more detail about the work that is in train, including that which I announced on ABC radio, if there are any further questions.