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Question: Lead Pollution in Port Pirie

01 June 2022


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of lead pollution at Port Pirie.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: InDaily reported yesterday that 42 public houses are located in areas of risk to children under the age of five because they are prone to lead dust. In the article it was stated that all of those 42 homes are currently occupied by at least one child aged under five. It is understood that there is a tender open for a maintenance contractor to facilitate the planning and completion of lead abatement related works in Port Pirie.

My question to the minister is:

Does the Malinauskas government intend to carry out the previous government's pledge to cut lead pollution at the Port Pirie smelter, and will the government rehouse affected families while the lead abatement project is taking place?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries):

I thank the honourable member for his question. I am happy to take that on notice and refer it to my colleagues in the other place who have direct responsibility for those matters.


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: when can I expect a response?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): That will be as soon as possible.


In reply to the Hon. R.A. SIMMS (1 June 2022).

Written answer tabled (7 July 2022)

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Human Services has advised:

Port Pirie has been segmented into lead-risk areas: high, medium and low. A lead-risk map reflecting these areas was updated in April 2020 and provided to the Port Pirie Housing SA office. The current practice is to not allocate families with children under five within the currently defined high-risk area. Existing tenants with children under five residing in the high-risk area, who were allocated prior to the provision of the updated lead-risk map, were given the opportunity to relocate to another medium-risk or low-risk area within Port Pirie.

Families who reside in current medium-risk and low-risk areas will not be relocated during the lead abatement works as these works will focus on the exterior of the house. Work will include covering existing exposed soil and increasing dust suppression to avoid potentially contaminated soil from blowing into homes. The soil will be tested on site prior to commencement of works, and soil with greater than 300 parts per million of lead will be removed from the yard and replaced with clean fill.

Greens BYO Container Bill Passes Upper House!

19 May 2022


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I would like to thank all members for their thoughtful contributions and for their support of this bill. I would also like to acknowledge the work of the former ministers with whom I engaged on this bill: Ms Vickie Chapman in her capacity then as Attorney-General, the Hon. Stephen Wade in his capacity then as health minister, Mr David Speirs in his capacity then as environment minister, and of course the now Deputy Premier and environment minister, the Hon. Susan Close, with whom I also engaged and who is also supportive of this bill.

I am a big believer in the Pantene effect in progressive politics—it does not happen overnight, but it does happen—and this bill is a good example of that because my predecessor, Mark Parnell, first introduced this back in 2018 and put it on the agenda then. I took it up with a few tweaks when I came into the parliament and so it is back again. I am hoping that this time it will progress swiftly through this house and then be quickly passed in the lower house so that it can become law. I hope that the government will make it a priority there for that to happen.

I want to flag for members' benefit that when this was introduced in the previous parliament, the then Liberal government had some sensible amendments that were supported by all parties, and I will be moving those amendments. They are the same amendments that were supported by the previous parliament and have been circulated to members previously.

Motion: Civil Liability (BYO Containers) Amendment Bill

22 September 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill is a simple measure that is consistent with the Marshall government's phasing out of single-use plastics, an initiative supported by the Greens and I think everybody here in this place. My former colleague the Hon. Mark Parnell first introduced a similar bill in 2018, around the time there was a debate around the use of single-use plastics. While there was opposition to the bill by some in the business community, I think this, a new version, addresses many of these concerns, and it is in a revised form that the bill appears before the parliament today.

We already know that eight million tonnes of plastics leak into our oceans each year, with estimates suggesting that, if this trend continues, by 2050 there will be more plastics in the ocean than fish—more plastics in our oceans than fish. That is a frightening prospect and one that we should all be looking to reverse as quickly as we possibly can.

While we have already seen single-use straws, cutlery and stirrers prohibited from being sold in South Australia, from next year there will be a ban extended to the sale, supply and distribution of polystyrene cups, bowls, plates, clamshell containers and oxo-degradable plastic products. We welcome that. This bill is a logical extension of the measures that the government has already set in train.

Essentially, what this bill does is allow a consumer to bring in their own reusable container to buy food. For example, you could go to your local supermarket deli section and, instead of having your gourmet and continental goods wrapped in plastic and then butcher's paper, you hand over your container and, instead, you have the goods packaged up in that. In effect, you can bring in your own container, fill it up and take it away with you.

The reason we are amending the Civil Liability Act instead of the Food Act is that this is due to a liability issue. Businesses could at the moment allow customers to bring in their own containers if they wish, but they would then assume responsibility if something goes wrong. If I bring in a container that is not suitable, or I have not properly sterilised it, or I do not store it, there is a concern that the business could be liable for that. This bill makes it very clear that it is not the business that assumes the liability; rather, the responsibility rests with the consumer for the container that they own and have bought into a store. I think that makes sense.

There is of course an exception provided in this bill in terms of general immunity, and that would be if the person who is selling the food did so knowing that the food was unsafe for consumption or that it was subject to a food recall order. In other words, if a food provider knew that the food was not fit for human consumption and they sold it to the consumer in their own container, of course this bill would not provide them with immunity. It is certainly no protection against negligent conduct. I also want to make the point that there is no mandatory requirement in this bill that requires businesses to adopt this practice. If a business decides they do not wish to allow customers to bring in their own containers, they are free to make that choice, and no-one is going to be penalising them.

What I will say, however, is that there is an overwhelming movement towards reducing single-use plastics and wastage here in our state. We know that South Australia has been leading the way in this regard over many, many years, so I think consumers will be excited by this reform and I think businesses will too. There is the possibility here, too, for businesses to say that they are going to offer a discount to consumers who bring in their own container. I think many businesses would jump at that chance. I commend the bill to the Legislative Council, and I hope that all parties will get behind this commonsense reform.