DAVID BEVAN: … we’re going to talk to Senator Don Farrell. Now, he’s a South Australian Labor Senator. He’s Parliamentary Secretary for Urban Water and he’s bought into the debate over recycled water. Remember we had this debate here in South Australia about… just over a year ago during the state election campaign.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: And it’s one of the, I think, one of the many things that Premier Rann said wouldn’t happen on his watch. Well, as we know, some members of the Party are getting a bit restive on how long this watch is going. We’ve had, for instance, Tom Koutsantonis as the new Mining Minister saying ‘well, I think we should have a debate about uranium enrichment’ even though the Premier made it quite clear that ‘not on my watch, we won’t’.
DAVID BEVAN: No, so is this another thing where we can see a changing of the guard, a changing of attitudes? This is what happens when power starts to shift within a party.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: We’ve had quite an interesting report, a couple of interesting reports on water. One’s the National Water Commission’s performance report on urban and rural water but there’s also the Productivity Commission’s draft report on desalination decisions by state governments. A couple of issues here one is the question of recycled water and whether we should embrace that. Do you think it’s time we should at least have a look at it again in South Australia?
DAVID BEVAN: Senator Simon Birmingham has called. He’s also a, Liberal, Senator and he’s also a… well, he’s a Shadow Parliamentary Secretary, so he’s Don Farrell’s opposite number. Good morning, Senator Birmingham.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, David. Good morning, Matt and listeners.
DAVID BEVAN: What do you make of this?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: The Liberal Party went to both the state election and the federal election with clear policies that were open to using stormwater in the potable water supply. We see it as a sensible thing as long as the science backs it and it is just amazing to now hear, of course, Don Farrell responding to this Productivity Commission report when we were pilloried by the Labor Party you would’ve thought we were out to poison the people of South Australia and Australia for suggesting it when in fact it’s just sensible water management to use this free source as effectively as possible.
DAVID BEVAN: Don Farrell, is Senator Birmingham being fair? Anybody who remembers the last state election would remember that Mike Rann made a lot of political mileage out of criticising even a discussion of using recycled water.
DON FARRELL: Dave, ultimately the community may say that we don’t want to go down this track. This is a national report. It’s not a South Australian report, it’s a national report and each of the communities will make their decision about what they want to do with water. All this national report is saying is ‘look, there’s a range of options available’. It’s not about the Liberal Party policy. It’s not about the Labor Party policy. It’s about saying ‘look, there’s an opportunity now because we’ve had good rainfall in most parts of Australia to have a look about what we should do during the period of the next drought to waterproof ourselves’ and all of the options are on the table according to the National Water Commission.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Senator, thank you for talking to us.