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Posted on November 29, 2017

SA's Primary Producers Call for Change to Levies in State Election Manifesto

Belinda Willis - Rural Editor

Adelaide Advertiser - 29 November 2017

PRIMARY producers are sick of being slammed by rising water and power costs despite employing one in five South Australians and being the backbone of the economy.

In its state election manifesto, Primary Producers SA criticised the State Government for also slapping increasing natural resources management and emergency services levies on to farmers at the same time.

“(Changes to farm land rules) a couple of years ago not only increased many farmers’ bills by over 10 times, but also gave a message to regional communities that the fact they provided the bulk of their own emergency services was totally ignored and disrespected by government,” it said.

The group warned against a “conflict of interest” in having the minister for water and the River Murray also being charged as the minister responsible for SA Water.

“Conflicts of interest in advocating for SA Water versus other water users needs to be avoided,” it said.

Group chair Rob Kerin said food, wine and fibre exports increased more than 50 per cent in the past decade, while there was no increase in non-agriculture merchandise exports.

“We need to be able to compete on world markets to see this growth continue,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government’s management of natural resources “had lost the confidence of many primary producers” and “less time should be spent on glossy documents and PR and more on practical actions”, Mr Kerin said.

The group called on any future government to comply with its national obligation for an annual independent review of water management, saying costs had to fall as the sector responsible for 25 per cent of the economy struggled with hits to its bottom line.

“Energy and water costs are hurting some industries badly, particularly irrigators and intensive industries,” it said.

Producers wanted parties to understand the importance of the sector and their impact on creating either a thriving sector or one “held back by increasing costs and red tape”.