Member for Barker, Tony Pasin announced earlier this week, according to sources, he believed State Forestry Minister Leon Bignell was about to make a statement about the allocation of funds from the South East Forestry Partnerships Program and he was pleased to see that the Public Campaign he led, had achieved results.
Mr Pasin said:-
State Forestry Minister Leon Bignell is set to cave in over the allocation of funds from the South East Forestry Partnerships Program, following a high profile public campaign by the Federal Member for Barker, Tony Pasin.
“I understand from sources that Minister Bignell has changed his plans and will now be making some announcements in an attempt to appease the concerns of the local community over the delay in finalising this program. Sadly it appears this will fall short of what is required,” Mr Pasin said.
“Anything less than the full allocation of funds and the interest earned, possibly a total approaching $13 million, whilst the decision has been delayed, will be a fail for Minister Bignell.”
“Obviously I am pleased the hard work we have put in to pressure the State Government to finally take some action appears to have caused this cave in, I will be disappointed if there are yet further delays with either a third round or a lack of clarity around the interest – as appears to be the case.”
The State Labor Government announced the sale of the forests on 19 December 2008 and 2,212 days later the $27 million industry assistance that was promised as part of that sale is yet to be fully reinvested in the South East – with over $10 million still uncommitted plus the interest earned on that money.
“The South East is sick and tired of Labor’s contempt for our region.”
“Disturbingly none of the available documentation indicates when the Minister is likely to make a decision. We have not been told how many Applications there might have been or what the value of those Applications is.”
“Meanwhile the State Labor Government continues earning interest on the funds, believed to be approaching $2 million, intended for the South East.”
“If the Minister’s announcement does fall short of what I and the community expects, as appears likely, we will continue the fight to get the funds that were promised for South East delivered.”
Today, Tuesday) Minister Leon Bignell announced $4.5 million would be injected into the South East forestry industry.
Mr Bignell said:-
“The State Government will inject $4.5 million into the South East forestry industry to generate more investment and jobs.”
His office said, Forests Minister Leon Bignell has visited the South East to make the announcement, and said the funding was being offered to four companies through Phase Two of the South East Forestry Partnerships Program, and will contribute to projects worth more than $20 million.
“The program was created to help the forest and forest products industry to recovery by encouraging further investment in new and existing businesses,” he said.
“Phase One of the program saw the joint investment of $34 million in the forest processing sector in the South East, with $15.38 million in State Government grants awarded to successful applicants.”
“The four Phase Two grants are consistent with the recommendations outlined in the Stage Two report from the Cellulose Fibre Value Chain Study, and will support further value adding along the timber supply chain.
“It will also support innovation and the introduction of new technologies.”
The successful Phase Two applicants are required to enter into a funding agreement with the State Government. They had to match government funding on a dollar for dollar basis, payable upon achievement of key milestones as defined in the funding agreement.”
“However, most will be contributing to projects at a higher rate than just matching the State Government’s contribution.”
Minister Bignell said a further $7.1 million was available to fund similar projects, and a third phase of SEFPP grants will open around March.
“It is imperative taxpayers’ money is spent on projects that will make a real difference for the South East – projects that maintain jobs and allow the forestry industry to grow,” he said.
“The further $7.1 million funding will support projects that meet the criteria of the Cellulose Fibre Value Chain Study, and an industry seminar will take place soon to help the industry prepare viable proposals in a subsequent call for new projects.”
Minister Bignell said the South East forestry region was a world-class timber resource and the Forest and Wood Products Industry is an integral part of South Australia’s economy.
Tony Pasin Member for Barker Minister for State Forestry Leon Bignell