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Friday analysis: Mount Gambier worthy of status and Labor’s election focus

The promise by the State Opposition to establish Mount Gambier as a high-status recognised centre of forestry research in Australia if it wins next weekend’s South Australian state elections is to be welcomed.

So are its promises to develop the Trees on Farms initiative and plans to support and expand the role of Forest Industries Advisory Council (FIAC-SA) so that there is a clear, ongoing platform for government and industry to work together.

There is no doubt that the Green Triangle is a powerhouse in the nation’s timber industry and is already heavily involved as a centre of forestry research through several agencies including the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation.

The Opposition also wants to address an important issue in the state’s South East – that of water management. Expansion of the plantation estate in the South Australia’s South East is reliant at present on problematic water access.

The Opposition quite rightly identifies plantations as an environmental asset due to their role in salinity abatement, enhancement of biodiversity values, and carbon sequestration.

The Opposition says our collective understanding of how water works in the Limestone Coast is continually evolving, and all sectors are keen to find solutions that allow growth and development.

The Opposition’s approach to what is something of a cash-cow for the State coffers in one way or another is to be applauded.

But it is worth noting that the Opposition has been criticised during the election campaign, which comes to a head on 19 March of heavy-duty financial promises its critics says are un-costed an extravagant. Its funding strategy will not be released until later next week.

The Labor Party is heavily tipped to win Government next weekend, and its chances will no doubt be reliant on the support of a batch of independents one of whom – Troy Bell – is Mount Gambier based.

No doubt he will help ensure these promises relating to the South East are followed through.