Mount Gambier mayor and Liberal candidate for Mount Gambier, Steve Perryman, has called on Labor Government Forestry Minister Rory McEwen to provide assurance the proposed upfront sale of three rotations of ForestrySA plantations is in the best interests of the region.
When comment was sought from Mr McEwen, he voiced disappointment about being asked to respond, stating “of course I will put the interests of the region first” and said The Border Watch should read the mid-year budget review, rather than call him.
“Keep in mind this is not dissimilar to what was done by Auspine recently, which could be a very sound business proposition and I will be very cautious about it; we will do all the research we need to do,” Mr McEwen said.
“Over the next 18 months everyone will have the opportunity to look at what options are available.”
However, Mr Perryman was alarmed about the proposal and warned the State Government not to sell off the future of South East jobs.
He said the mid-year budget review papers, released in December, revealed the government would look to offer South East forests to superannuation funds.
“Our forests must be managed in the best interest of the people of our state and region, not for the benefit of retirees in Michigan or Illinois,” Mr Perryman said.
“Three rotations means over a hundred years of timber harvest – the government would be extremely foolish to do anything that would limit future options and threaten the sustainability and viability of this important local industry.”
Mr Perryman said he would monitor developments closely to ensure any proposals were not a grab for cash at the expense of the region’s economy, forest industry and jobs.
“I am totally opposed to selling off the state’s forestry assets,” he said.
“The industry is the mainstay of this region’s economy and we must ensure it is viable and well-managed for the future security of this region.”
Mr Perryman said he would request a briefing from Mr McEwen for council. Source The Border Watch