Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Liberals wage war on South Australian farmers: Close, Scriven

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The Hon. Susan Close, Deputy Premier of South Australia, Minister for Climate, Environment and Water (SA), The Hon. Clare Scriven, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development (SA), Joint Media Release, 6 February 2024

The South Australian Liberal party has waged a war against the state’s farmers, with Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Nicola Centofanti and Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional South Australia, Ben Hood seemingly walking away from the feral deer culling policy, which is strongly supported by both landowners and local Landscape Boards.

Nicola Centofanti, Ben Hood, an interstate MP representing shooters and other recreational shooters from around the state recently attended a ‘Wild Deer Community Forum’ in Naracoorte.

Information provided to Government from attendees indicates that Nicola Centofanti questioned the value and effectiveness of the feral deer eradication policy, while also spreading misinformation that Government Ministers were invited and chose not to attend.

Nicola Centofanti seems to have conveniently forgotten the fact that under the former Marshall Liberal Government, now Liberal Leader and former Environment Minister, David Speirs introduced legislation to ensure that concerns raised by landowners about the impacts of feral deer could be addressed.

David Speirs stated at the time:

“The stark reality is that when they turn feral, deer impact agricultural industries and the environment. They eat native plants, pasture, and crops, spread diseases and cause damage to fencing. They also cause other problems, becoming hazards on our roads and attracting illegal hunting, on both private and public lands.”

As the then Environment Minister, David Speirs approved the commencement of the feral deer culling program across impacted areas around South Australia, including in the Limestone Coast.

Feral deer cost the South Australian primary production sector an estimated $36 million in agricultural productivity losses in 2022 alone with current modelling predicting this could increase to as high as $242 million a year by 2031.

The Malinauskas State Government has continued eradication efforts and as of January 2024 over 11,000 feral deer have been culled across South Australia including over 6,000 in the Limestone Coast.

Quotes attributable to Susan Close

The memories of the opposition appear to be shorter than the brief time they were in Government. The feral deer culling program was approved by then Environment Minister, David Speirs.

If the South Australian Liberals have abandoned their support for a deer culling program, then they need to come clean with farmers as this is a significant policy shift.

I urge David Speirs to immediately counsel his Shadow Minister for Primary Industries for displaying such poor judgement and spreading misinformation.

Quotes attributable to Clare Scriven

I urge the Shadow Minister to stop waging a war with Limestone Coast farmers who are working incredibly hard and simply want to work with Government to minimise the damage that is being done to their properties by the vast number of feral deer.

I have written to David Speirs to bring this important issue to his attention and urge him to counsel his Shadow Minister about joining with a minor party NSW MP to undermine the deer culling policy and failing to stand up for our hardworking farmers.

If feral deer populations continue to increase, farmers in the Limestone Coast are facing a quarter of a billion dollars in lost agricultural productivity in less than a decade from now.

Quotes attributed to Kingston farmer, Peter Rasheed

I’m delighted to hear that the Landscape Board and PIRSA are working to eradicate feral deer.

We’ve constructed a lot of deer exclusion fencing over the last seven or eight years just to keep feral deer out of our lucerne. Before we built these fences, we could get a really good standard of Lucerne, but the feral deer would just eat it out.

With our deer exclusion fencing, and by being involved in the Feral Deer Eradication Program we are seeing a lot less deer on our property. I am amazed at how much more feed we are getting now that the deer numbers are down.

A few years ago I never thought a there’d be any way that you could eradicate feral deer, but now that the helicopters have come in and with thermal imagery there’s no doubt that we can eradicate them.

Everyone needs to be aware of the feral deer problem and get behind the eradication program.

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