“It is a very simple matter. The government has made the decision to sell the forward rotations,” he said.
Assurances have been made in local and state media this week that a sale won’t proceed if it doesn’t sufficiently benefit South Australian taxpayers, but the negative impact on country communities appears to be a lower priority, with Mr Foley telling regions left in limbo to “wait and see”.
“If the regional impact statement demonstrates to government that there are consequences to the South East that are not fair on the South East… well clearly we’re not going to ignore that,” he told ABC Radio.
More than 1000 South East residents who have signed a “Don’t Privatise SA Forests” petition feel that they are already being ignored, and that the impact on the region is black and white – any forward sale poses a serious threat to the future of timber mills and jobs right across the economy.
The forest industry directly and indirectly employs around 5,000 South East residents and accounts for approximately 40 per cent of the region’s employment and economic activity, with the money created flowing on through all sectors.
“You don’t need to be a qualified analyst to predict the type of impact a sale would have on this region, if the logs are bought by an overseas company, what’s stopping the new owners from processing them in overseas mills rather than South Australian ones?” said Mayor Perryman
Mr Foley has admitted that it’s impossible to place conditions on a sale which would prevent such a scenario until work has been undertaken by consultants.
“Let’s hope that these consultants have a good crystal ball – that they can see exactly who would buy our logs and what they plan to do with them, because from our vantage point, things are looking incredibly grim,” says Mayor Sage.
A convoy of buses will take South East protesters to Adelaide next Wednesday 24th November to protest against the forward sale of logs on the steps of Parliament House.
“Rallying in Mount Gambier is simply preaching to the converted; we need to tell the rest of the State exactly what is at stake, as forward selling threatens the entire regional community and economy, and is likely to result in thousands of job losses,” says Mayor Perryman. “We don’t want to be the fall guys for the Government’s apparent cash grab cure. Save our jobs – don’t sell the logs!”