Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:10): I certainly rise to support this bill, the Aquaculture (Tourism Development) Amendment Bill 2021. I will go through some of the direct particulars in relation to this legislation, which I believe will be a great boon to South Australian tourism, especially in this COVID time. What we are seeing with restricted and in some places almost nil border access to South Australia, with the excellent COVID management we are running in this state, are these internal tourism drawcards that I do not think we can have enough of.
In regard to the West Coast, Eyre Peninsula is a fantastic part of the world. It is so far from Adelaide—and the member for Flinders would understand this—that you can easily forget about Adelaide when you are on the West Coast and enjoying life in that community, which has many assets. You can go from Port Lincoln, obviously on the seafront there, and then go up around either coast. There are many amenities along the way in places such as Tumby Bay, Smoky Bay, Streaky Bay and Ceduna.
You can get around to Fowlers Bay, which is a lovely little gem that I have found in the last five or six years. It is a great part of the world and these places are being discovered by so many more people because instead of those billions of dollars going overseas, with travellers and tourists heading overseas, they are finding the real gems inside our state. Certainly, that is where these tourism developments come in so importantly in regard to aquaculture, which is an ever-burgeoning industry in this state.
I commend all the operators in whatever line of aquaculture they are in. It can present a lot of issues, and a lot of management is involved in getting things right, whether it be oyster farming or fish farming in particular, making sure the nutrients are right, making sure the flows through large tanks are correct, nutrition, getting rid of waste, etc.
Another thing that happens on the West Coast in particular is the harvesting of tuna. It has gone a long way from pole fishing off boats back in the day to essentially going out in the gulf and way out to the border of Western Australia, out Eucla way, and netting large schools of tuna, towing them back to Port Lincoln and farming them in pens, which have also had to put up with ingress of predators. They developed technology to get around that and that is great to see, especially in light of the tuna industry's recent progress with more tuna being sold to Japan, noting the recent difficulties we have had with trade with China.
Certainly in regard to this legislation, this bill does seek to provide a one-stop shop point of entry for agricultural operators, so that it streamlines the application process for establishing tourism-related structures that are directly associated with the farm production.
This bill will make it easier for aquacultural operators to obtain approvals for those structures, which are oyster-tasting platforms right out on the water and they will provide certainty for existing operators and encourage further investment in aquaculture-related tourism. I think that it is absolutely vital to value-add to this industry—which is already a successful industry—but anyone involved in primary industries will know that if you can add a dollar and keep a dollar you are so much better off in putting that directly into your local community and into maybe exporting that work interstate or overseas.
There is certainly an emerging regional tourism experience for tours and on-water tasting of oysters at the state's successful Eyre Peninsula oyster aquaculture operations. We have businesses—for example, such as Oyster HQ at Coffin Bay and South Australian Premium Oysters at Smoky Bay—that offer a unique tourism destination experience, where people can enjoy freshly harvested oysters and refreshments on platforms in the water, which are providing a drawcard to attract visitors to their regions.
These tourist platforms are currently not lawfully approved under planning and development legislation. I know that probably everyone here has had something to do with their own individual experience with getting things approved under planning and development legislation over time. We have recently streamlined the process—which I commend—that came under the planning act, which was reversed in 2016 by former Minister Rau, the former member for Enfield at the time.
There can be some challenges. You can have things that are not zoned, you can go through a process to get them approved—and that is an extra process and so it should be—but anything that can streamline the process, such as this legislation, I really commend. Operators have, in light of that, raised concerns with the government that the processes to obtain proper approvals for such developments are not clear despite engaging with multiple agencies.
Under the current legislation, proponents are required to separately seek development consent under the Planning Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 from the Attorney-General's Department in the Planning and Land Use Services division and seek an authority to construct on the seabed under the Harbors and Navigation Act 1993 from the Department for Infrastructure and Transport.
This is in addition to requiring aquaculture infrastructure approvals and licence condition approvals from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions under the Aquaculture Act 2001. Under the Aquaculture Act 2001, the responsible minister has the power to assess and approve applications for the construction of infrastructure on the seabed for the purposes of farming aquatic organisms or aquaculture such as finfish sea cages and oyster farms, which obviously includes post and long lines.
This process includes extensive consideration of environmental impacts, referrals to the Environment Protection Authority and undertaking ecologically sustainable development risk assessments. However, one thing that the Aquaculture Act 2001 does not currently provide is a process for the approval of the structures which are associated with the aquaculture business but which are not directly required for the farming of seafood species.
What this bill proposes to do is provide like-for-like approval powers to the minister responsible for the Aquaculture Act 2001 for aquaculture-related tourism. That relates to the structures where they are established inside an approved aquaculture zone, as exists for aquaculture farming structures.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regions will consult with all relevant agencies in relation to aquaculture tourism structure proposals, as per the current requirements for consulting on aquaculture farming structure proposals. One would think that would go side by side, that if there is a new development for a farm, and they are thinking about doing a tourism proposal as well, that consultation goes along side by side to streamline that process.
This is a minor amendment to the act that will reduce red tape and frustration for aquaculture development proponents and support an emerging tourism sector in regional South Australia. As part of the bill, it will provide for the establishment of regulations that will stipulate what types of tourism developments are not to be covered by this streamlined one-stop shop approvals process.
The bill also makes a number of consequential amendments and, consistent with existing provisions in the Aquaculture Act 2001 for carrying out unauthorised aquaculture activities, a maximum penalty of $35,000 will apply for carrying out an unauthorised aquaculture tourism development. Should this bill progress through the parliament, the government will work with Oyster HQ and SA Premium Oysters to become compliant with the new requirements, providing them with the certainty operators have been seeking.
I really take my hat off to people in the fishing industry generally, whether it is finfishing, net fishing, fish farms or oyster farms, which is what we are talking about here today. There is a lot of investment, a lot of risk and, as with any primary production, the income from these sorts of proposals does not just fall at your feet. There is obviously a lot of risk. Over time, many of these farming practices, especially with finfish, and farming fish in tanks can be fraught with a whole range of issues, and I saw some happen many years ago now.
Heading towards 18 or 20 years ago, at a little place called Bedford, which is a little site just outside Cooke Plains in my electorate not far from where I live at Coomandook, there was some fish farm work there because there is quite saline water right throughout our district. It is not good enough to irrigate, and there are little pockets at Cooke Plains, just to the east of me but not very far away.
It is quite salty and a lot of work was done in farming fish. I cannot remember offhand what they were, but it went on for several years and I would have to check if any infrastructure is left out at the site. I know at least one operator, a couple of brothers I believe, set up an operation under that and invested a lot of money. I do not believe it was quite as successful as they had hoped, but that is the level of risk people are prepared to take to invest in industry and get on board.
In regard to oysters and oyster farming, which is a process that has gone on for many years, I remember that I went over there when I was the shadow spokesman for fisheries way back in either my first or second term. It was classic: out on a little boat, we had a guy who operates from Port Lincoln who takes video footage for Channel 7, and we were there shucking oysters down on the boat live on camera. They were straight out of the water, absolutely fantastic and fresh, and really did the job.
This is a similar experience, but you will not be out in a boat; you will be on a structure that I am sure will be built adjacent to the processing premises these companies will have and not too far from these oyster farms out of the water. It is something to see, whether you are at Coffin Bay or Smoky Bay or other areas on Eyre Peninsula, how these farms are set up. As I said, they go through all the approvals, through the Environment Protection Authority, to put them in place.
Fishing is not without its struggles. When I was the shadow spokesman, the former minister at the time, the former member for Mount Gambier, Rory McEwen, was going through a process. He said, 'We are going to double their licence fees.' It caused an uproar. I am not sure if his maths was so hot because the fees were actually quadrupled. I went over to the West Coast and we had meetings with hundreds of people involved in the industry. Thankfully, we got a result and pulled those fees right back to a far more manageable position so that people were not taxed out of existence and so that they could have a far more successful outcome.
This is another factor that these people are putting in place. There are some real entrepreneurs over there on the West Coast, including Gary Zippel. I know him; he went to school with one of my brothers at Urrbrae. A lot of these people are thinking outside the square, not only with setting up farming operations but now to add this bit where you can have a platform out amongst the farm and I am assuming you can sit there with your legs in the water or not—it depends on how the structure is set up, I suppose—and have a beautiful, pleasant day.
All of these locations around the West Coast are magnificent spots to get away and to have this opportunity to take in some of the fantastic oysters that are farmed and grown in this state. Obviously, Coffin Bay oysters, all of these oysters, are world renowned. When borders open up, which they will one day, we will be able to have that overseas opportunity for more people to salivate over this produce. As I indicated, there is a great resurgence where people can and do tour throughout the state.
As I have indicated in this place before, I think it was last October that I went north of Hawker and it was almost like Hindley Street, the amount of traffic up there. Trying to get a coffee at the stop at Hawker, there was quite a queue, which is quite different to other times I have been through the Flinders Ranges or the Far North. That is a good thing to see because in all the troubles that we are having with COVID—and there are plenty of people who are suffering, and sadly some businesses have fallen down—there has certainly been lots of support from us as a state government to try to minimise that, and also from the federal government, which has put in over $300 billion in supporting people.
The real winners here are ventures in South Australia. I think that will go on for many years to come, sometimes because people will have to because they cannot go anywhere else, quite frankly, or it is just too risky. They can see the great gems that we see right throughout our state. It interests me sometimes when you see groups of people in Broken Hill. It is great for people to travel, but then they find that it is difficult to come home. We do what we can as local members, and I am sure there are a lot of local members on both sides of the house who get in involved in that process.
In terms of opportunities, you can go down the South-East. I know Robe in the member for MacKillop's electorate, which is normally quiet over winter, has had quite a season. It does get windy and cold at Robe. I was only there last week and did it blow. It certainly shows what can happen in these tough times. So right throughout the South-East, down through Robe and Mount Gambier, and then you can come up through to the Mallee areas and Upper South-East, up around my electorate, where people can go to national parks. You can go through Ngarkat, for instance. The Border Track has been a great drawcard for many people, over against the Victoria border.
Obviously, we have great drawcards around the place like The Bend Motorsport Park, which has the classic cars on Sunday. At Murray Bridge, we have the fantastic, new six-storey Bridgeport Hotel, which is absolutely magnificent. You move up through the state to the magnificent river through my electorate, through the Riverland, right up through the Flinders to the Far North and Innamincka and then across to the other side of the state as well.
There is a lot of opportunity here in South Australia. I think the more we can do to enhance that opportunity, which is part of this legislation, in regard to aquaculture businesses and the sooner this is fast-tracked through both houses of parliament so we can assist those businesses to further maximise their investment in this wonderful state, the better it will be, not just for those people and those businesses that take those risks but for the state and the economy as a whole. I commend the bill.