Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (11:19): I rise to support the member for Bragg in a couple of comments she has made specifically in regard to the water meters. As a new member of parliament, I have already received representations from numerous Stuart electors specifically on the water meter issue, and it really is a very difficult one for people to understand. I cannot understand it and I am sure in fairness, in their hearts, people on the other side of the chamber do not understand, either, why this is necessary. It is a cost-saving measure on the surface, but the difficulty is twofold in regard to shared water meters.

One is the fact that it really disadvantages the person living on their own, typically the pensioner living all by themselves in a Housing SA house or, more often, in a small unit. When you are sharing a meter, whether it is two dwellings on one meter or whether it is up to 19 dwellings on one meter (which is the largest example who has been brought specifically to me in Port Augusta), it is the person in the small household who is disadvantaged, because the person in the big household is the one who is only paying 50 per cent—far less than their use or far less than what they should be paying. The person in the small household—the old pensioner living or by themselves—is the one who is also very often paying 50 per cent of the water used between the dwellings, or maybe one-nineteenth share. It is the poor person living by themselves, really disadvantaged, who gets completely ripped off by the scheme.

The other really bad part about it is that it encourages people to waste water. I can give you an example. In Port Augusta—and this is one of the situations where there are only two dwellings—we have a lady in her 70s living all by herself, with no garden, a few visitors and friends and relatives coming to visit her, but certainly nobody else having a shower—they might help her do the dishes, or something like that, every now and again.

Right over the fence in the next unit is a large family with a very large extended family coming to visit, coming to stay the night, coming to have showers, coming to fill up water containers, coming to do all sorts of things, and yet the first lady is paying 50 per cent of the combined water bill, and the second family is paying 50 per cent of the combined water bill. So, she is disadvantaged, but equally importantly the family next door is encouraged to waste water, because they are only going to pay 50 per cent of the total bill anyway.

So, you get down to a situation where perhaps you have got 19—as I said, that is the largest example brought to me—dwellings on one meter and everybody there is paying a one-nineteenth of the water. There is no incentive whatsoever for anybody to take the responsible approach, that we all encourage throughout South Australia and hopefully throughout the rest of Australia as well, to conserve our use of water.

When you are going to get one-nineteenth of the water bill regardless of what you use, people just go and waste the water. They have long showers, they have gardens, they let the tap or the sprinkler run, they wash their cars, they encourage other people to come and have a shower at their place, because they do not have to pay any more for the water really anyway because it will never spread out further than their one-nineteenth. However, when that behaviour then starts to spread throughout these units it grows and grows, so the one-nineteenth actually starts to grow and grow, but nobody has got any impact on their one-nineteenth so there is no reason to slow down, there is no reason to stop.

The 19 homes do not all get together and say, 'Look, let's all conserve a bit of water and we will all drop our bills.' It just does not work that way. I really do want to support member for Bragg on this particular part of the regulations. It really disadvantages a sole pensioner living by themselves and it also encourages water waste. It has certainly been raised with me many times, particularly in Port Augusta.


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