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Environmental Impact of Private Mines Amendment Bill

23 March 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I want to thank honourable members for their contributions: the Hon. Connie Bonaros, the Hon. Clare Scriven and the Hon. Heidi Girolamo. As has been mentioned, the purpose of this bill really is to ensure that private mines are subject to the same consultation requirements as other mines and in particular ensure that they are required to consider the implications for the environment and health—two issues that are very important, particularly in the community around White Rock Quarry.

We have talked a bit about being tongue-tied today and tongue twisters; White Rock Quarry is a tongue twister. There has been a significant community campaign addressing the issues and the effects of the mine. The Hon. Connie Bonaros, in her remarks, queried whether it would be possible to get an update on where things are up to with White Rock Quarry. I can advise the honourable member that on 7 December 2022 there was a call from the Back Off campaign to treat private mines the same as other mines, which my bill reflects.

In September 2022, White Rock Quarry issued a warning that there was blasting occurring near the area of Pizey's Knob, which is close to the nesting grounds for falcons and a spring that flows into the main cave. I understand there have also been community meetings with the mining corporation, so there are ongoing community concerns. Whilst this bill would not prevent private mines, it would ensure that they are subject to the same requirements as other mines, and I think that is entirely appropriate.

I recognise that there is obviously not the support for this bill to advance within this place. I think that is disappointing. I think voters in the community of Bragg will be particularly disappointed with the Liberal Party's position given White Rock Quarry sits within that electorate. I think voters will also be intrigued by the position of the Labor Party because when they were in opposition, while they did not support the bill, I do want to revisit the remarks that were made at that time by the Hon. Clare Scriven on behalf of the minister in the other place. At the time the bill came to a vote, she said:

We want to understand the impacts so that we can ensure that any changes made have the best possible outcomes for all affected parties. The opposition's preference—

that is, the Labor Party's at that time—

would be that we actually have a select committee look into this, but, of course, we are at the very end of a parliamentary session. It is therefore not feasible for a suitable select committee to be established to investigate and report within the time frame. However, I do want to put on the record that that would be a possible future action in regard to this matter.

In summary, while we cannot support this bill at this time, we are very keen to have a detailed and robust investigation in the future with a view to making changes that will address the issues that are raised with this current difference between the definitions but that will have the evidence and research behind it to ensure that we do get the best possible outcome.

The honourable member and indeed the Labor Party are now in government, so they are in a position to initiate such an investigation. Certainly, were they to establish a committee, the Greens would be very keen to be involved, and were they to inquire further into these issues, we would certainly welcome that. It is not sufficient to simply say no. I hope that the Labor Party, now they are in government, will actually look into the matter, establish a committee if they see fit and investigate through the other means that are available to them in government.

I do want to thank the Hon. Connie Bonaros, in particular, and the SA-Best party for the strong and consistent position they have taken on this and the support they have provided to the community campaign. With that, I conclude my remarks.