Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (14:34): My question is to the Premier. Can the Premier outline any action that has been taken in relation to his public commitment to the Riverland last week? With your leave, sir, and that of the house, I will explain.
Mr WHETSTONE: Last week, the Premier was photographed in the Riverland promising to provide 'an appropriate package to provide support for small business and tourism operators in the Riverland next week'. What has been done since then?
The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS (Croydon—Premier) (14:35): Thank you to the member for Chaffey for his question. Let me say from the outset that as far as my government is concerned we are very keen to work with the member for Chaffey as the single representative of the Riverland community and stand more than willing to be in receipt of calls from the member for Chaffey on any issues he might hear on the ground. We want to deal with the circumstances in the Riverland as expeditiously as possible in a way that reflects the best aspirations of team South Australia in a difficult situation.
The member for Chaffey is right regarding the commitment I made last week while on the ground in the Riverland. I am very happy to report to the house that the Treasurer and I, as recently as yesterday evening, started to go through a few of the possibilities in respect of that package. I know that the Treasurer is also working closely with the Minister for Tourism in actively contemplating a suite of options. It has been our hope that we would have the details of that package announced before the end of this week and that's certainly what we have been working towards.
I am happy to convey to the house—and indeed, through you, sir, to the member for Chaffey and the Riverland more broadly—that we want to get this right and there is a bit of work to be done in terms of making sure the package meets the relative needs. So we might not be able to get that announced by the end of the week, in which case we would certainly have it done by this time this week. I invite the member for Chaffey to provide a degree of latitude to the government in this regard because there is active work underway between the Department of Treasury and Finance as to what we do in tourism.
There were also other issues that we are turning our minds to that go beyond just the tourism sector, and they are issues around local infrastructure. I know the Minister for Emergency Services has been working very hard to address some issues we have had around sandbags. There is a national shortage of sandbags at the moment in a way that won't surprise most reasonable people, given the events that have occurred in the Eastern States in recent months. I know that the Minister for Emergency Services has been working assiduously in conjunction with the SES and other key agencies to seek to address that, and that's something that the Treasurer has been actively turning his mind to in regard to additional resources in that way.
I am also happy to say, and I am not sure that this has been made known publicly, but there were issues that were raised with us that I am sure the member for Chaffey has heard as well regarding interaction between houseboat owners and banks, given the peculiar issues that are affecting houseboat owners on the river who are effectively being deprived their busiest time of the year and the way banks are treating various arrangements with the houseboat owners. I have asked the Department of the Premier and Cabinet to convene a meeting with the major banks in Australia, along with the Australian Bankers Association, to see if we can't find a way through those issues.
I am advised that that meeting is indeed happening today, I believe. If it's not today, it's tomorrow, but certainly it's imminent if it hasn't happened already. We are trying to elevate those issues using the authority of the state government to prosecute the concerns that houseboat owners have. Despite them being issues that are beyond the state's control, we can then nonetheless use the power of our advocacy to raise legitimate issues. We are doing what we can where we can, work is in train, and certainly we extend the invitation to the member for Chaffey to raise any other issues that he may have, being the local representative who is on the ground on a frequent basis.