QUESTION: Water pricing inquiry

During Question Time Mark asked the Treasurer about his recently tabled ministerial statement and the terms of reference of the inquiry into water pricing in South Australia.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Perusing these terms of reference, it appears to me that there is one gap, which I think would have fitted within the government's pre-election commitment, but does not appear to be in these terms of reference, and that is in relation to so-called STED schemes—septic tank effluent disposal schemes. I am sure I'm not the only member of parliament who gets lots of inquiries from constituents, in country areas largely, who have been fairly self-sufficient in the disposal of their own waste, only to find that their local council comes along and charges them between $5,000 and $10,000 to connect to a scheme that they say they want no part of. It is a part of the pricing of water services, so my question of the Treasurer—

The Hon. R.I. Lucas: Not by SA Water.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: No, but my understanding is that the commitment was made in relation to water pricing—I didn't think the commitment was exclusively to SA Water. So my question is: will Mr Owens, conducting the inquiry, be able to take submissions and representations from people who are worried about other aspects of water pricing other than those delivered by SA Water?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I am happy to take the question on notice and come back but, certainly, my understanding is that the inquiry that has been established will be in relation to services provided by SA Water. If the service to which the honourable member is referring—and my understanding is he probably is—it is not a service provided by SA Water, but provided by councils or, indeed, other bodies and organisations.

Whilst it may well be an important issue—and I am not discounting the importance of it—it wasn't the subject of the nature of the public debate, parliamentary inquiries and other issues that were raised in relation to the regulated asset base of SA Water. So I don't discount the importance of the issues the honourable member has raised, or the fact that he and other members have had concerns raised about STED schemes as well, but they certainly were not the nature of the public debate that resulted in the commitment we gave many years ago in relation to having an independent inquiry into—he is correct in saying water pricing, but it was as a result of the public controversy and debate about the regulated asset base that had been established for the last pricing audit.

If there is anything different to that that I can add, I will bring back a further reply, but I suspect there won't be, so my response will stand, unless, as I said, I get further advice that might lead me to clarify.