Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:32): I seek to support the motion but move another amendment from this side of the house. I do support, well and truly, the intent of the member for Mount Gambier in this motion, but I move to amend the amended motion as follows:
(a) recognises the important assistance professional and recreational fishers play in emergency marine safety situations in Limestone Coast waters; and
(b) calls on the state government to investigate a State Emergency Service marine rescue presence in Port MacDonnell and ensure there is adequate support for marine rescue services along the state's coast and inland waters.
The new amendment means that we are looking at not just the obvious need for rescue services in the Limestone Coast at Port MacDonnell but also for at least one replacement vessel in the seat of Narungga, as I am aware there is a need.
Mr Ellis: Try more.
Mr PEDERICK: More? We can have more if we want, he says. We must be certain that the people of the Lakes and River Murray are adequately resourced for rescue as well. I have spoken in the house here before about the rescue vessel that the Milang rescue group have put into action for the Lower Lakes, funded by the Freemasons. That vessel was worth over $300,000 and run by volunteers, but they have to find the fuel and the operating costs and the cost of running their facility. I wrote to the minister about this and he has given me several different ways to perhaps get assistance by having some cohesion with local SES groups, but I do not think that has been worked through yet.
In regard to the issue at Port MacDonnell, I have met with the emergency services people there, including the CFS and local government people in the Grant district council. This is a vital service for that area of coastline for the industries that work out there—the fishing industry, the rock lobster fisheries and the many people who use recreational vessels in the Limestone Coast.
In regard to current marine rescue arrangements in South Australia, there is a whole range of people who have a role in marine rescue. We have the Volunteer Marine Rescue network, which was established under the State Emergency Service, which currently involves the following organisations: the Australian Volunteer Coastguard, the Cowell Sea Rescue Squadron, the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol, the South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron, the Victor Harbor Goolwa Sea Rescue Squadron, and the Whyalla Sea Rescue Squadron.
There are also the South Australian SES marine units across the state, including at Kingston in the South-East. We also have recreational fishers who get involved in rescues, and professional fishers, and we also have access to Surf Life Saving South Australia's helicopter, jet boat and jet ski crews. There is also the SAPOL Water Operations Unit.
Total annual marine rescue statistics are not easily accessible; however, the SES Annual Report states that in 2020-21 there were 329 marine rescue responses from VMR organisations. It is also not known exactly how many marine rescues are conducted by recreational and professional fishers.
In regard to the assistance of fishers in emergency marine safety situations in the Limestone Coast—and these occasions come up because the closest vessel is at Kingston, which is about 200 kilometres away—there are no readily available statistics. Obviously, as the member for Mount Gambier has outlined, we are well aware of issues that have happened, but there are no readily available statistics on the number of marine rescues carried out by fishers in the Limestone Coast.
However, there have been obvious issues that have come up in the media about rescues in the South-East in that area. In August 2022, the South-East fishers called for a government-funded marine rescue service and compensation after a spate of emergencies in recent years, and again this past fortnight, including a rescue off the coast of Port MacDonnell.
In January 2017, a Port MacDonnell boat sank, prompting renewed calls for a marine rescue base in the region. An article also referred to a six-year campaign to see a marine rescue service based at Port MacDonnell since an incident in mid-2011 that saw two fishermen rescued by locals.
In August 2022, with a call for assistance for fishers, a news article suggested that local fishers are calling for a dedicated marine rescue service for the southern-most part of the South Australian coastline as well as compensation for rescues, including any damage sustained to property, and compensation for lost time. That article also included the following commentary from the member for Mount Gambier:
[Fishers] are putting themselves at risk and it comes at great expense to themselves.
Still quoting the member for Mount Gambier:
There should be some reimbursement, whether it's just fuel costs and equipment that is damaged, [that] should be covered—a bit of a thank you for providing the service.
The article also stated the member for Mount Gambier's intention to keep pushing for a dedicated marine rescue service. We are clear that we want to see more of an SES-focused marine rescue service going in to support a dedicated marine rescue vessel stationed at Port MacDonnell.
There would be some issues around supporting fishers and fishermen, even recreational people getting involved in rescues, because where would you start and stop with compensating volunteers, whether they are within marine rescue and other aspects of volunteering who are not similarly compensated? It would be difficult to manage, and there is talk about the funding costs from the government in regard to this.
However, I think that this fund—which obviously the government have not committed to, saying they will investigate the need for a fund—may lead to increases in taxes, noting that money is already collected from the public via the emergency services levy for marine rescue. It is my firm belief that that fund should be used to supply these rescue facilities, and it may not support a more appropriate outcome in the longer term.
In the longer term, we need to look at a State Emergency Service marine rescue presence in Port MacDonnell and ensure that there is adequate support for marine rescue services along the state's coast and the inland waters. That is absolutely vital, now that we have come out of COVID in recent years, with the number of people, especially with recreational boating—whether it be offshore or inland—who are able to get out and about again. The weather is warming up and things will heat up as we head through the summer.
We are already deep into October and right through to March/April, to the end of the traditional ski season, we certainly need to make sure that we have the appropriate facilities in place along our state's coastline and in our river system to protect our community, our hardworking, taxpaying community. They are the ones who pay the emergency services levy that should be funding this marine rescue effort, whether it is at Port MacDonnell or other areas along the coastline, such as Yorke Peninsula, or whether it is on the River Murray or around the Lakes supporting the group at Milang. I support the amended motion.