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Financial storm over SA forestry sale

South Australian Liberals say the sale of southeast forestry assets will cost taxpayers millions of dollars in the long run. Source: ABC News

Opposition forests spokesman Adrian Pederick says the industry currently contributes more than $40 million annually to the state budget. However, he says with the impending sale, budget figures for next financial year show the industry will cost the Government nearly $4 million.

“Back in 2009/’10, forestry contributed $44.7 million to [the] Government and if that was put out over the 111 years of three forward rotations that’d be close to $5 billion going into the state’s coffers,” he said.

“Even the $3.8 million cost over that time annually, that’s over $400 million, $422 million over 111 years is a cost to the budget and I’m sure that number will grow.”

“Forestry that’s been a great contributor to the budget of this state suddenly becomes a cost impact on the budget,” he said.

“For what we see as a discounted, short-term gain, the Weatherill Labor Government are selling out the southeast and selling out the state as far as we see it in regards to management of forestry.”

Treasurer Jack Snelling says the ongoing commitment to community services was taken into consideration when the reserve price was set.

“We’ve already taken that into account in our financial modelling, which tells us proceeding with this sale makes sense,” he said.

“My first concern has always been the welfare of the families in the southeast to ensure that they can be confident about the economic future of the south-east, they know that they’ll have and continue to have strong employment opportunities.

“What we will do and what we’ve given an undertaking to do is to provide community service obligations to ForestrySA to continue their firefighting services that they do in the forests, to ensure that there’s that higher level of firefighting capacity, and also to ensure that the forests are made available for recreational pursuit.”