QUESTION: Removal of mandatory rainwater tank connection requirement

During question time, Mark asked the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, representing the Treasurer, about the impact of removing the mandatory requirement for rainwater tank connection at new residential properties.


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: For the last 13 years, South Australia — the driest state in the driest continent — has had rules requiring new homes to be fitted with rainwater tanks that are plumbed into the toilet or the laundry. For the last three weeks speculation has been rife about whether this requirement will be removed, supposedly at the request of the Master Builders Association. The Treasurer is quoted in a number of media outlets as saying he is considering the move.

On the other hand, Irrigation Australia and other groups representing the rainwater harvesting industry, have said that removing mandatory rainwater tanks will not significantly affect the price of new homes and that it will simply shift more costs onto householders through increased water bills and onto local government and the environment through increased stormwater infrastructure costs. They claim that this was the effect of a similar rule change in Queensland some years ago.

The industry also claims that up to 650 jobs could be lost if mandatory rainwater tank rules are abolished. They point out that nearly all rainwater tanks used in South Australia are manufactured locally here in South Australia. Lastly, the government's own Green Adelaide initiative incorporates the principles of water-sensitive urban design. This is depicted on the government's website in a logo showing rain falling on a home roof and running into a rainwater tank.

My questions to the Treasurer are:

1. What modelling has the government done to show the likely impact of such a rule change on household budgets and local council infrastructure?

2. How would such a rule change be consistent with the government's professed commitment to the principles of water-sensitive urban design?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment): I thank the honourable member for his questions. He has always had a strong interest in rainwater and rainwater tanks. I will take the question on notice and refer it to my hardworking colleague, the Hon. Rob Lucas, Treasurer of the State.