Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:49): My question is to the Minister for Emergency Services. Has the government ordered sandbags to be supplied to river communities and, if so, where did they order them from? With your leave, sir, and that of the house, I will explain.
Mr PEDERICK: It has been reported to the opposition that the government has ordered sandbags from India, even though there were sandbags available from within Australia.
The Hon. J.K. SZAKACS (Cheltenham—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services) (14:49): Thank you, member for Hammond, for your question. I also note your interest in this emerging issue as the member for Murray Bridge and the Murraylands region. The information that you attest to regarding the availability of sandbags in Australia is not correct. Sandbags right across Australia are at a very significant shortage, and that is in large part because of the extraordinary floods that we have seen in the Eastern States throughout 2022.
The SES and emergency services right across the country have been working collaboratively. They have been doing that through the existing national frameworks that facilitate some of that cooperation as well, not only through AFAC but also they have been working very closely with the ADF to ensure that every bit of supply and every bit of supply chain security that we can attain here in South Australia is tapped into.
I can advise the member in the house that just over 300,000 sandbags have been deployed to date in the Riverland and across affected communities, and I can also confirm to the member that a further 500,000 sandbags have been secured from a supply chain that I will speak to. This is direct action the government has undertaken with the SES to support this important measure being deployed into our communities when they need it the most.
As for where these bags have come from, I am advised that every secure supply chain within Australia has been tapped out. We have been opening every cupboard, we have been speaking to every supplier and they are simply tapped out. I can advise that with the support of the Malinauskas government and the extraordinary work being undertaken by our emergency services, we have been able to directly tap into the manufacturer of sandbags in India.
The 500,000 bags that we have been able to secure will be procured directly from suppliers in India. They will be in South Australia to support our community. Whilst I would agree with the sentiment of the member for Hammond and I think all of us, particularly on this side of the house, when it comes to supporting local jobs and local procurement in times of emergency and in times of crisis we will do what it takes to secure supply chains, and that is why we will unashamedly tap into overseas markets and overseas manufacturers if we have to.
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