SA Minister's Breakfast 2023
The breakfast was a fabulous opportunity to hear from the Hon Susan Close MP, Deputy Premier and Minister for Climate, Environment and Water
With the Topic Theme For the Love of Water, we discussed the increasing need for all of us to value and look after our precious water resources, highlighting the vital role water plays in our economy, prosperity, health, and environment.
With record attendance for a breakfast of 127 at the Adelaide Convention Centre, the session was enjoyed by all and they were impressed with the big picture thinking of the Minister.
The Minister started by quoting/paraphrasing Noel Pearson
"Our nation is in three parts. There is our ancient heritage, written in the continent and the original culture painted on its land and seascapes. There is our British inheritance, the structures of government and society transported from the United Kingdom fixing its foundations in the ancient soil. There is our multicultural achievement: a triumph of immigration that brought together the gifts of peoples and cultures from all over the globe — forming one indissoluble commonwealth."
The Minister then shared her thoughts around three key areas of focus:
- The importance of aboriginal culture and how we need to go beyond ceremonial recognition to practical ways to address the gap (with specific reference to potable water supply in remote communities), recognizing the cultural value of water, and having everyone adopt the understanding that water is finite and precious and needs to be protected. She invited discussion and for us to share the challenge.
- The impact and importance of climate change - she referred to it as the 'scene setter that guides everything'. She shared how recent flooding could be leveraged by the eastern states to argue for delay or reduction in emphasis in delivering on the MDB Plan but that she will continue to remain firm. She noted NSW is heading for an election and while VIC government was returned, she feels there is greater acknowledgement that climate change is a priority for voters. The new Federal Government provides opportunity, being supportive and paying attention. She is clearly committed to advocating to deliver the Plan in full. She also noted that the 450 GL through 'efficiency measures' for environmental water is only one part, and she will be focused on ensuring delivery of the 605 GL to be available for consumptive use to be achieved through 'supply measures'
- She also spoke about water security and acknowledged that new sources of water are not cheap, and provided a call to action to assist with education and messaging about the importance of understanding costs and benefits, acknowledging economic benefits, environmental impacts and showing the value of both water and energy security (with specific reference to hydrogen being water intensive but considered a method of energy storage which is important to achieving supply of energy from renewables)
- Her final message was about innovation. She talked about how we have responded historically to environmental pressures driving innovation, but is this enough? How do we capitalise on our intellectual property, what more can government do to support innovation in water? She also touched on the merging of universities as a way to ensure world class research institution in SA (supported by world class teaching to attract funding that necessarily comes, for better or worse, from international students given the national university funding model)
Questions from the audience covered:
- Investment in hydrogen and what has been considered in terms of water supply. She stated the current government priority would have the required appropriate water supply - further development beyond that would need to be solved.
- Pumped hydro. She responded simply that this isn't something that has come across her desk and she would look into it.
- Questions were also asked about universities the potential merges and how that would effect the focus on water research.