Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:21): I proudly stand today to inform the house that a Riverland town, Barmera, has been named the nation's 2017 tidiest town—an outstanding achievement. On the weekend, at the Australian Tidy Towns Awards in Tasmania, Barmera won four of the six categories and the town was highly commended in a fifth category, before being announced the nation's overall winner and after receiving the 2016 Keep South Australia Beautiful winner.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:14): I would like to speak about a local event that I attended over the weekend, the Woolenook internment camp's 75th anniversary. It was a unique event on the great River Murray, north of Renmark. We all had to hop onto the PS Industry, one of the most famous paddle steamers on the River Murray in South Australia. It has always been regarded as the fastest paddle steamer in South Australia on the River Murray. In fact, most of the people who attended the anniversary of the internment camp travelled up on the PS Industry. It was an opportunity for me to unveil a plaque commemorating the 75th anniversary of a historic site in the Riverland. It is a piece of Riverland history with a unique story that has not received as much attention as it deserves.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:27): I rise today to raise serious community concerns from the people in the Riverland about the future of Renmark Police Station. Renmark Police Station is operating on bare bones or on stand-by until there is an available patrol, and it is only open when particular patrols are not out on the beat. The Renmark-Paringa district is home to 9,000 people and the closest station is at Berri, which is about 20 minutes away.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:24): I stand here, 138 days after a devastating hailstorm ripped through the Riverland and marginal Mallee country and decimated a huge amount of country and productive horticulture and agriculture, to put on record my disappointment, which cannot be overstated, at the process for assistance for these impacted growers. The sudden and unprecedented hailstorm left an estimated damage bill of somewhere in the vicinity of $100 million to nearly 260 properties. The full effects of the storm are yet to be felt. Wine grapes, stone fruits, citrus, almonds, potatoes, onions and cereal crops and more were impacted.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:18): One thing that never ceases to amaze me in the Riverland is the way that the community gathers to support events. This was evident on the weekend at Loxton's feast of colour, excitement and pride, the 60th Loxton Mardi Gras, which was another outstanding success. It is one of the longest running festivals in Australia and one of the oldest festival in South Australia. Many people associate Mardi Gras with the Sydney event, but in Loxton the meaning behind the name is religious—Mardi meaning Tuesday and Gras meaning grand. It is a family religious festival to eat up big before the austerity of Lent.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (12:52): I too rise to support the motion and also the amendment put forward by the member for Morphett today. PATS is obviously a very important part of the health system for people who live in the regions and who are seeking medical treatment. It was brought to my attention in my first term as the member representing the people of Chaffey that the reimbursement process has serious flaws.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:21): I rise today to showcase some of the achievements of constituents in the electorate of Chaffey over the last couple of months, claiming state, national and international awards, and it has certainly kept me busy acknowledging these achievements. These awards include the 2013 Advantage SA Awards which I attended in Murray Bridge last Friday evening.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:22): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Water and the River Murray on the subject of the environmental water provision required for the desalination plant funding.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (12:26): I, too, rise to support this bill to protect the title of our paramedics here in South Australia. As the member for Morphett and the member for Stuart have said, the paramedic profession in Australia is currently not regulated, despite consistent calls for it to be included as part of our national registration and accreditation scheme for health professions.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (12:09): I, too, rise today to support the bill introduced by the Minister for Energy in September this year. South Australia has been a lead legislator for the National Energy Retail Law and National Electricity Law, and I am pleased to be able to support the bill which represents an initial step for the eventual widespread introduction of the use of smart meters and related technologies. It is a welcome relief to finally see the state Labor government doing something about this issue because after 12 years in government it has failed to take any action to implement smart meters, despite the widely recognised benefits of the technology.