It was a busy winter break from Parliament that was interspersed with meetings with councils, industry and constituents on multiple topics, a great tour of Cheetham Salt at Price (see attached pic with site manager Ryan Hodgson), the release of the new SA Grain Industry Blueprint, and a valuable two-day visit from Minister for Sport & Recreation and new Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, the Hon. Corey Wingard MP.
The itinerary for Minister Wingard included visiting local sports clubs at Arthurton, Minlaton, Curramulka and Kadina which are undergoing or have completed recent upgrades funded by State Government, as well as driving him on some of our worst roads to highlight need for investment, and meeting with local contractors to discuss proposed plans to outsource the management of DPTI facilities maintenance.
There were more highlights this past week, too, with the Single-Use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Bill passing through Parliament, making SA the first state in the country (effective early 2021) to ban single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery and beverage stirrers (with plastic cups, bowls, plates and clam-shell polystyrene containers to follow). An extensive community education program will now be rolled out to help with this transition.
Other Marshall Liberal Government announcements I have especially welcomed are the introduction of a Paid Pandemic Leave Scheme in SA offering ‘isolation’ payments of up to $1,500 for eligible workers required to quarantine; expansion of rent relief and land tax relief for tenants and landlords impacted by COVID-19; a new advocacy service to ensure vulnerable South Australians with disability can access and receive the supports they need; and the news that SOS Copper Coast Suicide Prevention Network is to receive funding from the Healthy Towns Challenge program to establish a community garden and peace park.
The announced plans for commercial-scale seaweed cultivation and processing is also exciting, offering a potential new industry and income stream for our region. I welcomed the proactive work in proposing amendments to existing legislation to allow algae farming in aquaculture zones in Hardwicke Bay so Yorke Peninsula can realise its full potential in this space, and some weeks ago met with researchers and trial proponents.
It has been projected that a seaweed livestock fodder industry could be worth in the vicinity of $140 million per annum to the State within three years and potentially create 1,200 jobs so I am keen to do all I can to support the innovative entrepreneurs committed to making this happen.