I have felt privileged over the last four weeks since the Yorketown, Edithburgh and Price fires to witness the energy of communities which pitch in and support each other in time of need, and I was proud to address the House of Assembly on 26 November in support of the motion by Premier Marshall to acknowledge these efforts.
Such was the ferocity of the fires, it is incredible no lives were lost. No words can adequately convey the gratitude felt for the actions and skills of the dedicated volunteer CFS and farm unit firefighters, as well as SAPOL, emergency services and the multiple community groups who helped out on fire grounds and since, with ongoing clean-up, support services and organising and staging fundraisers.
It was also amazing to see the rallying of the Copper Coast community to put out the welcome mat for the arrival to our region of the first ever cruise ship on 7 December, and what a sight the Vasco De Gama was. I commend the hard work of Copper Coast Council, the estimated 100 volunteers on hand to direct passengers, and the businesses and tourism operators who so successfully all helped showcase our region. Last year, cruise ship trade was worth $145 million to SA’s economy, and it is exciting that YP can start sharing in these benefits. The next ship is scheduled to dock at Wallaroo on 18 December.
Successful funding allocations for YP
In good news this week, Narungga electorate has been allocated $301,796 of Coast Protection Grants to help our local councils repair, restore and sustain our coastlines. Yorke Peninsula Council has been allocated $194,000 for Port Clinton’s Seawater Inundation Flood Protection project and $17,500 for a Yorke Peninsula Strategic Coastal Risk Study, the latter to allow council to identify and prioritise projects such as seawalls and levees, storm damage repairs, beach replenishment and landscaping (drift net fencing, planting and dune restoration); Copper Coast Council has received $52,296 for North Beach Sand Management; and Barunga West Council $38,000 for Port Broughton Protection Works.
I was also pleased Yorketown Area, Port Broughton Area and Mallala Primary Schools have commenced or are about to have work commenced, on connection to fibre optic internet to provide to our students the fastest internet available in Australia. All schools are to have this high-speed internet connection by mid-2020, and the roll out is on track.
Two schools in the electorate have also recently received funds from the State Government’s Music Innovation Fund - $10,000 for Kadina Memorial School and $12,500 for Wallaroo Primary School, to give more opportunities to students to participate in music education.
I have very much enjoyed travelling around the electorate in the last couple of weeks, from Stansbury to Mallala and towns in between, attending multiple end of year school presentations and again presenting Fraser Ellis parliamentary medallions. Congratulations to all leaders and prize winners for your study efforts and contributions to your school communities.
Parliament highs and lows
I was pleased the Crown Land Management (Section 78B Leases) Amendment Bill passed through both Houses this week, fulfilling another pre-election commitment to create new opportunities for families with shacks on Crown leases and in National Parks to retain them instead of facing orders to demolish them. However, I was very disappointed the legislation to lift the GM moratorium to provide our farmers with planting choices that have long been available interstate failed in the Upper House, being voted down by Labor, SA Best and the Greens.
This is a serious setback for our agriculture sector, as publicly stated by the National Farmers Federation, Grain Producers SA and the Australian Seed Federation. The lifting of the moratorium was to finally free our farmers to have the same choices to use new and improved crop varieties that farmers in all other jurisdictions around the country have long had.
Whilst Labor, Greens and SA Best play politics our farmers now face continued reduced yields and further hits to their bottom lines as a result of the continued ban on them using modern, universally available, crop varieties scientifically proven to better cope with drought, weed management and disease.
The vote down of this bill also makes a mockery of the findings of comprehensive investigation via an Independent Review by Emeritus Professor Kym Anderson AC, the GM Crop Advisory Committee and a Parliamentary Select Committee.
One amendment offered from SA Best was to have farmers wishing to have access to the seed technology required to seek approval/permits from the Environment Protection Agency and undertake compulsory on-farm assessments before growing each GM crop, and Labor’s price to get their vote was to have local communities and individual councils decide whether or not to allow GM crops in their patch -- all of which translates to increased costs for our farmers, more hurdles for them to jump and more layers of red tape. They are unworkable solutions, and all to give our growers the same choices farmers in Victoria, NSW, WA, NT, and Queensland already have.
I am not giving up on this issue and nor is the Marshall Liberal Government. Debate, consultation and negotiation will continue next year and we remain committed to getting the outdated GM moratorium lifted for our farmers across mainland SA in 2020.
Finally, thank you to all for continued support and collaboration in a busy, productive 2019. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a prosperous, happy 2020! I advise the Maitland Electorate office will only be closed for a short break -- from 5 pm, 24 December to 9 am, 2 January.