Peter's Blog

Regional SA

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:29): I rise today as the first of the winter fronts passes over South Australia. Many people will be very pleased. I am going to talk about the dry conditions that have impacted this state and much of eastern Australia over the past months. On Eyre Peninsula, the focus has been very much on the Cleve, Cowell and Arno Bay areas. There is no doubt that producers have been severely affected by probably the most difficult seasonal conditions in the last 50 years.

It is important to remember that other parts of Eyre Peninsula, including parts of the West Coast, are also doing it tough. The Streaky Bay silos, for example, have not opened for grain receivals for two of the past four years. If we add to that the impact that Pacific oyster mortality syndrome (POMS) has had on the availability of oyster spat and the subsequent difficulties for our oyster growers, we have challenging times for our communities.

In regard to spat, I hear that the nurseries are about to put onto the market enough spat for oyster growers to meet their demands; however, it will not be at the four millimetres stage. It will be just at the two millimetres stage, which means that for most oyster growers, depending on where they are situated, it will be between 18 months and three years before they have any saleable oysters from that spat. Never mind—there is light at the end of the tunnel.

My congratulations go to the organisers of the Growing Together forums held just a couple of weeks ago in both Streaky Bay and Cowell. The events were the initiative of Steve Whillas, who has also done an extraordinary job coordinating the delivery of donated straw and hay to farmers in need across Eyre Peninsula as part of the work of the EPIC Charitable Trust. Steve also works as one of the three Family and Business (FaB) Scouts on Eyre Peninsula. Supporting Steve was Mentally Fit EP, an organisation for which former Streaky Bay girl Lain Montgomerie is a key coordinator along with Jo Clark from Port Lincoln. The District Council of Franklin Harbour wellbeing drought coordinator, Jasmin Piggott, is also to be congratulated on her work.

The events were held over a Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. On the Saturday, mostly local presenters gave their insights into ways to successfully navigate challenging times. All the guests spoke from their own valuable experiences and covered topics from mental and physical health to succession planning and everything in between. For those with businesses in difficulty, the message from the state government’s Rural Business Support is not to self-assess. Confidential advice is available from experienced rural financial counsellors working under this banner.

The two guest speakers at the Saturday night dinners were David Head, a farmer from Tintinara and formerly from Wharminda on Eyre Peninsula, and the always eloquent and ever funny former AFL footballer Sam Kekovich. The weekends continued with packed family days on the town ovals on the Sunday. Thanks go to the many sponsors who made the events possible and the MCs for the two days, Brooke Neindorf at Cowell and Emma Pedler at Streaky Bay, both of whom are well known on Eyre Peninsula as ABC morning presenters.

The take-home message for me and many others that day was to take care of ourselves and to look out for each other. Rain is forecast, as I mentioned, and spots are beginning to fall. The forecast is good, certainly for the West Coast and the southern agricultural areas of the state. It will be enough rain for some to begin the season. It will not be enough for others, but it will certainly inject some confidence, I hope, into the rural community out there.

I would also like to mention the federal government’s involvement in the drought effort. I congratulate the federal member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, on achieving $1 million of federal funding for local government areas. Those on Eyre Peninsula that were successful are the district councils of Franklin Harbour, Cleve, Kimba, Wudinna, Streaky Bay and Ceduna. All those district councils are situated in the north and the east of Eyre Peninsula.

It has certainly been an injection of funds that they can well make use of. We will be putting it towards projects that would otherwise not be done, community projects that will benefit the small towns and the smaller communities as a result of the drought funding. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the rain does come and that we can recover, as we always have before from serious drought situations.

Mr Teague interjecting:

Mr TRELOAR: I have just had an update: there have already been eight millimetres in Ceduna.