Mid-North communities are no closer to economic security with the Weatherill Labor Government continuing to stall on a decision regarding the future of the Bundaleer and Wirrabarra forests.
“The Weatherill Government’s procrastination regarding the future of the Bundaleer and Wirrabarra forests is the latest kick in the guts to a local community desperately in need of jobs,” said Shadow Minister for Forests David Ridgway.
“It’s time the State Labor Government to show decisive leadership based on a long-term economic vision for the Mid-North.
“The Weatherill Government took two and half years from the time fires ravaged the vital mid-north forest assets to even begin formal consultation on options to keep the region’s economy on its feet.
“In March 2015 Forestry Minister Leon Bignell assured the community that following an Expression of Interest process decisions on the future of the forests would be made by the end of 2015.
“Now in 2016 all Labor has announced is a formal request for proposals, with no further commitment on when a decision will be made.
"I want to make sure what occurred in the South East doesn't happen in the Mid-North. I want these communities and these workers to have strong, confident futures in competitive industries.
Forestry SA reported that it would cost $11.4 million (net present value) to replant and maintain the forests over a 44 year period, with the Yorke and Mid-North RDA quoting the annual net economic benefit of that investment to be $9.4 million. Ongoing operation of the Jamestown Sawmill would save around 50 jobs alone.
Mr Ridgway urged the Weatherill Government to take affirmative action in securing the region’s economy.
“It is the Government’s job to talk to the community and decide whether this regional economy can benefit from an ongoing commercial forestry industry, or to progress a combination of forestry, tourism and agriculture activities which create jobs and money,” said Mr Ridgway.
“But that decision must be made now.
“This community has been at the mercy of a dying forestry industry for three years now and is looking to the State Government for reassurance and economic leadership”.