Page 5314                                                   HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY                               Tuesday, 11 May 2021

The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:07): I’m glad to see we lost three minutes of our time allocated to the crossbench; however, my question is to the Minister for Regional Development. Can the minister update the house on whether ForestrySA no longer intends to supply sawlog to the Morgan Sawmill in Jamestown from 30 June this year? With your leave, and that of the house, sir, I will explain further.

Leave granted.

The Hon. G.G. BROCK: I have been advised today that the Morgan Sawmill in Jamestown has been informed by ForestrySA that its tender for sawlog from the Adelaide Hills plantations has been unsuccessful and that, when its contract for supply ceases next month, it will not be renewed.

I have also been informed that if the Morgan operation in Jamestown is unable to source sawlogs, it will have to close its business, with a considerable loss of jobs in the region, and I am advised it’s up to 75 jobs. This will come at a time when the nation is experiencing a shortage of timber to meet construction demand at home while governments are allowing mass shipments to overseas, and this must stop if we intend to prioritise local businesses ahead of hostile foreign businesses.

The Hon. D.K.B. BASHAM (Finniss—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:08): I thank the member for his question. I had the opportunity to meet with the Morgan Sawmill representatives last week to have a discussion in relation to their concerns. ForestrySA has timber available out of the small number of trees that it currently owns after the sell-off of the South-East estate by the previous government, so there is only a small part of what used to be historically managed by ForestrySA here in South Australia available for the opportunities within the industry. What has happened in the process is that—

The Hon. L.W.K. Bignell interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Member for Mawson! The minister has the call.

The Hon. D.K.B. BASHAM: ForestrySA have gone to the market and put out a call for tenders in relation to the next 10 years’ worth of timber availability within its estate. They have gone out to the market seeking interested buyers of that timber, and my understanding is that Morgan’s was certainly one of those that tendered. From what the member for Frome has outlined, they have been informed that they haven’t been successful in that tender process.

I am unaware of exactly what happened in that tender process. That is managed by ForestrySA that has no ministerial influence whatsoever. It’s an open tender, where bidders can put a price forward and seek an opportunity to buy the timber that is on the market. At the meeting we had with Morgan’s last week, we certainly discussed, if they weren’t successful, whether there was an opportunity to look at Kangaroo Island timber, for example, whether that was an opportunity for them.

We are still working with them in that discussion to see whether there is an opportunity to get access to that timber. We are also having a look at whether there is any other timber ForestrySA has that they could pursue in the short term to keep the business operational.