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20 November 2021

In the face of a strong community campaign against the sham site selection process for a Lower Eyre Peninsula (EP) desalination plant, the Marshall State Government has announced a 12 month pause in the project with all sites back on the table.

“It’s politics at its worst,” said Independent SA Senator Rex Patrick.

“It’s an announcement to push bad news beyond the State and Federal elections. It’s an announcement designed to neutralise the democratic influence of the people of Port Lincoln and the EP. It’s a disgrace.”

The history of the EP’s water infrastructure - the Tod River scheme, the Morgan-Whyalla pipeline and the Iron Knob to Kimba inter-connector - has been closely tied with the economy success of the EP which contributes to $3.7B of the states’ domestic product.

Back in 1914 the Adelaide Observer recognised, ‘The greatest problem in connection with the settlement and development of Eyre’s Peninsula has probably been that of providing an adequate and continuous water supply.’

“Water is the life blood of the Peninsula. The current State Government have not worked out that the EP’s proposed desal plant is about a vision for the EP, not a narrow-minded fix to a short term water shortage.”

State Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs announced late on Friday the desal plant plan would be put on hold for 12 months as the state government and SA Water collect more scientific data and conduct further community consultation.

He went on to say that groundwater experts at Flinders University had provided the latest water security outlook, which informed the department in its decision.

”Earlier this morning I initiated an Freedom of Information request to access the latest water security outlook,” said Senator Patrick.

“The State Government, with financial assistance from the Federal Government, must make an announcement on the desal plant, located at a high energy section of the coast and part of a 50-year vision for the EP,” Senator Patrick said.

“There needs to be vision and ambition for the EP, not politically driven delay. The people of the EP should not even consider casting a single vote for Liberal state hopeful, Sam Telfer, or for Liberal federal incumbent Rowan Ramsey unless an investment and location announcement has been made.”

“Premier Marshall has lost control of the SA Parliament and is now entirely focussed on one thing - his own job. Rome is burning while Marshal fiddles. Irrespective, the truth of the matter is the Liberals have little time for the EP.”