Forestry policy a key talking point for country cabinet

Petermalinauskas20 3 17864423 TBW Newsgroup

MOUNT Gambier will be the site of the state opposition’s first post-COVID shadow country cabinet, with South Australian Labor leader Peter Malinauksas flagging the development of a forestry policy as a personal priority.

State Labor frontbenchers will descend on the Blue Lake city on July 26 to meet with industry leaders, key stakeholders and the general public to discuss local issues.

The opposition’s main decision-making group will then travel to Naracoorte on July 27 to meet with councils, community organisations and businesses, with the visit culminating in a town hall meeting at both sites.

Mr Malinauskas said the 14 shadow cabinet ministers would collate and use all information to help develop policies ahead of the 2022 state election.

“The South East is an important part of the state, particularly economically and it is critical we hear from people about the issues they face,” he said.

“Shadow ministers can engage with stakeholders and community members involved with their portfolio.

“The town hall meetings allow people to ask us questions and present us with an idea, which is particularly important as 2020 is policy development year.

“We are treating policy pretty seriously and we have started the process early.

“We don’t want to hear people’s ideas two months out from the election.”

Mr Malinauskas, who has previously acknowledged the sale of the forward rotations as “regrettable”, said he was particularly interested in the development of a forestry policy for the Limestone Coast.

“As a new Labor leader, I have acknowledged areas where we have got it wrong in the past,” he said.

“The former government made an error in relation to the forest, but you have to acknowledge it and move forward.

“What really matters now is the policy.

“We do have ideas in mind in relation to forestry and there are a range of things that are on the radar, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

“We need to consider if there is a way to ensure local mills are able to maintain the supply of sawlog to be able to fulfil their potential.”

The Limestone Coast visit is the fifth in a series of shadow cabinet meetings in regional South Australia, following trips to Whyalla, Port Pirie, Port Augusta and most recently, Kangaroo Island.

Mr Malinauskas said concerns about jobs, health and education had been broadly held across the state’s regions, but expected boosting the capability of the Limestone Coast to a significant

“Jobs is always front of mind as regional communities are keen on jobs in the regions,” he said.

“Compared to other regions, the South East economy has been more robust, but what the South East represents is an opportunity for growth and a lot of potential.”

Community members are encouraged to attend the Mount Gambier public meeting at City Hall on Sunday, July 26 at 6pm.

A public meeting will be held at the Naracoorte Town Hall on Monday, July 27 at 6pm.