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The “Don’t Privatise SA Forests” campaign strongly opposes the State Government’s proposed forward sale of more than 100 years of plantation rotation harvests. The government claims that the money raised from a sale will help compensate for lost revenue caused by the global financial crisis, but there are strong fears that the Treasurer’s “cash grab cure” will come at the expense of country communities.
“The forest industry directly and indirectly employs around 5,000 South East residents, so any sale will have significant and irreversible consequences for all of us,” says Mount Gambier Mayor, Steve Perryman. “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?”
The plight has united the State’s South East, with more than 3,000 residents signing a “Don’t Privatise SA Forests” petition which will be tabled in State Parliament on Thursday, 25th November 2010. Many of them are expected to make the journey to Adelaide for next week’s rally, with four free buses already fully booked. Free placard and banner making workshops will be held this Sunday, November 21 from 1-3pm, and Monday, November 22 from 10am-5pm at Mount Gambier Library, and every rally participant will receive a free “Don’t Privatise SA Forests” t-shirt to wear on the day.
“The call is now out for Adelaide to get behind its ‘country cousins’- in addition to boosting the State’s economy, the South East timber industry supports everything from housing construction to household toilet paper, so everyone will be affected in a physical sense as well as a fiscal sense by this brash sell-off. By remaining united and committed, we can succeed,” says Mayor Perryman.
The State Treasurer, Kevin Foley, has made assurances that the trees will remain under the management of Forestry SA, but a new owner may have other ideas. Mr Foley has admitted that it’s impossible to place conditions on a sale to protect out jobs and our industry, so the South East has now embarked on this unprecedented campaign to tell the rest of the State exactly what is at stake.
“Rallying in Mount Gambier is simply preaching to the converted; so we’re taking our fight direct to the Adelaide-based decision-makers. Save our jobs – don’t sell the logs!” Mayor Perryman said.