Secret subsidies are propping up One-Forty-One Plantations, the forest company to which Labor sold South-East timber production forward rights for generations.
“The subsidies could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the contract,” said Shadow Forestry Minister David Ridgway.
In 2011 the Weatherill Labor Government approved the forward sale of the South-East forest resource. The buyer was One-Forty-One Plantations, which will be able to harvest the timber for well into next century.
“But the forest resource is still managed by the public sector through the Forestry Corporation,” said Mr Ridgway.
“One-Forty-One pays Forestry SA for this service but there is a huge, secret short-fall.
“We have now learnt that it costs Forestry SA far more to deliver the service than One-Forty-One pays.
“It’s a losing deal for the taxpayer, a boon to One-Forty-One.But the amount of these losses is a deeply guarded secret.
“The Weatherill Labor Government yesterday refused for the third time to detail how much taxpayers are propping up this ill-conceived sale.
“The Weatherill Labor Government is frightened of public exposure, embarrassed by the bungled sale.
“In Parliament earlier this week, Forestry Minister Gago actually invited me to ask her for those details. Yesterday, perhaps after consulting with the Treasurer, she retreated back into the Government’s cone of silence.
“Everyone in the South-East warned Labor not to sell the forest resource but the Government went ahead anyway. Now South Australians across the State are paying the price for that rotten deal,” said Mr Ridgway.