The Weatherill Government’s decision to provide $10 million to mining giant OZ Minerals whilst slashing funding for agricultural research is further evidence of Labor’s lack of a coherent economic strategy for our state.
"South Australia’s agricultural industry employs 24,000 people and generates significant income for the Weatherill Government but immediately after the March election Labor slashed funding to its agricultural scientific research body SARDI," said Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.
"In short the Weatherill Government has gifted $10 million to a multinational mining company on the promise of a handful of jobs whilst starving locally owned and operated agricultural businesses of critical research funds.
"We’ve also seen the world class Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics have its Weatherill Government funding cut by $1.5 million per year.
"The Weatherill Government is also closing down the Lenswood Research Centre, they’re selling off the Flaxley Agriculture Research Centre, and the Minnipa Agriculture Centre is fighting for survival."
Prior to the 2014 State Election, Jay Weatherill stated that an economic priority would be "producing premium food and wine from our clean and green environment".
Mr Ridgway confirmed the State Opposition’s support for the mining industry, but argued that it should not be at the expense of an industry which has been South Australia’s economic backbone.
"This State was founded on farming and agriculture and its future prosperity remains heavily reliant upon the performance of the sector," said Mr Ridgway.
"It is an industry which has been here since settlement and, if given the necessary support, will continue to be here for generations to come."
"We can’t expect to remain competitive without research and innovation. We can’t rival developing countries on labour costs and if we aren’t innovative our agricultural sector will wither on the vine."