In Parliament’s Question Time today Minister Bignell confirmed the Weatherill Government would not commit the required $2 million of State Government funding to establish a forestry innovation hub in the State’s South East.
Minister Bignell reaffirmed comments he made last week, citing the fact that he was not informed of the announcement beforehand and would therefore not be committing funding.
"Quite frankly I think the Minister’s response is absolutely childish," said Shadow Minister for Forests David Ridgway.
"Instead of embracing what could be a great investment opportunity and a real jobs and growth provider for regional South Australia, the Minister is insisting on playing politics.
"The Minister needs to take a mature approach to this and sit down with the Federal Government to have this discussion before ruling it out arbitrarily."
Last week the Federal Government announced it would invest $4 million for a National Institute for Forests Products Innovation. This funding is to be matched by industry to the tune of $4 million and requires $2 million of funding from the Tasmanian and South Australian Governments.
The institute will operate as a dispersed network model with one hub in Launceston and the other based in Mt Gambier in South Australia’s Green Triangle.
"The Tasmanian Government have recognised this is an important investment for the forestry industry and immediately committed funding," Said Mr Ridgway.
"Minister Bignell seems to be playing politics, supporting his Federal Labor colleagues and is standing in the way of what is a sensible investment in South Australia’s forestry industry."
The forestry industry is vital to regional communities, contributing $7.7 billion in gross domestic product nationally and employing 63,400 people.
"We all know that South Australia is at the bottom of the economic pack, we have fallen behind Tasmania in the key employment and economic growth indicators.
"The Liberal Government in Tasmania recognises a good opportunity and is not afraid to act on it, whereas South Australia’s tired Weatherill Government are stuck in a rut that is 14 years deep."