Labor slam PIRSA cuts

CUTS: Labor has attacked the Marshall Government for stripping funds from PIRSA.
CUTS: Labor has attacked the Marshall Government for stripping funds from PIRSA.

Shadow Primary Industry Minister Eddie Hughes has slammed the state government for stripping more than $36 million from South Australia’s peak primary industries department.

The State Budget represents a number of cuts to Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), including:

  • Cutting the SA Premium Food and Wine Credentials grant program ($6.6 million)
  • Cutting the economic sustainability grant program ($10.6 million)
  • Cutting the food innovation taskforce and Advanced Food Manufacturing grant program as well as a variety of other grant programs ($8.8 million
  • Abolishing the Food Park Tenant Attraction program ($5.5 million)

The Marshall Government will also not be extending the Local Government Association’s Regional Youth Traineeship Program.

Mr Hughes said he expected more hidden cuts to PIRSA and other providers of regional programs.

“The brutal cuts to PIRSA are another cruel blow to some farmers across the State who are battling very adverse weather conditions,” he said.

“In this Budget farmers received no direct financial support from the Marshall Government.”

Mr Hughes criticised Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone for abandoning the regions in the State Budget.

“Minister Whetstone constantly talks about how much the regions matter,” he said.

“However, the State Budget paints a different picture about how Liberal’s really feel about boosting jobs and productivity in the agricultural sector and in regional South Australia.

“It is absolutely appalling that when some South Australian producers are experiencing the worst conditions in memory, that the State Government is stripping back the department which provides them with programs, support, research and counselling,” he said.

Minister Whetstone pointed out that the State Budget did contain measures to support the state’s farmers.

“The Budget delivers on our commitment to waive $1.6 million in oyster industry fees and provides $260,000 funding for Rural Business Support to deliver rural financial counselling services through to June 2020,” he said.

The state government will also deliver an election promise to fund wild dog trappers to protect the state’s $5.5 billion livestock industry.

“We have employed seven wild dog trappers and provided an enhanced baiting program to safeguard one of the state’s most important industries,” Minister Whetstone said.

“These trappers will particularly help South Australia’s 7,000 sheep, lamb and wool producers and will also help prevent these vicious dogs from heading further south into the southern production areas.”

The Budget was also welcomed by Primary Producers SA, with Executive Chairman Rob Kerin saying the move by the government to reduce costs is a win for farm businesses.

Those reductions include changes to the Emergency Services Levy and payroll tax, capping natural resources management and state-wide initiatives in reducing energy costs