Legislative Council: Tuesday, June 14, 2022


Green Triangle Fire Detection

The Hon. T.T. NGO (14:50): My question is to the Minister for Forest Industries. Will the minister inform the chamber on new technology being delivered to the Green Triangle region to support industry with their important fire detection and response capabilities?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:51): I thank the honourable member for his question and his ongoing interest in this matter. I was pleased to be able to join my cabinet colleagues last week for this government's first country cabinet meeting. In the beautiful Limestone Coast, God's country, we were very warmly welcomed and received by the local community.

I was particularly pleased to join with the Minister for Emergency Services to see the exciting technology utilising artificial intelligence that is being used to identify fires in forests and surrounding areas. This proven technology has identified and prevented well over 400,000 fires interstate and overseas. I am proud that the Malinauskas Labor government has budgeted $2 million to replace fire towers with this new technology, which will greatly improve the ability to detect dangerous fires early.

This government is very well aware of the immense contribution that the South-East makes to the state and will continue to support the $1.3 billion sustainable plantation forest industry. The Limestone Coast region is an economic powerhouse for South Australia, and the importance of the plantation estate to regional employment—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —and the state's economy, domestic processes and the housing construction industry is immense. It is critical that we proactively protect this valuable forest asset as well as the safety of those working within the forests, within nearby communities, and visitors to the region. The delivery of this election commitment will provide the capability for landscape-level fire detection while ensuring existing fire towers remain serviceable during the transition.

This technology, which will be delivered in partnership with the Green Triangle Alliance, which is a group of the nine largest forest growers in the region, has been operating successfully interstate and overseas for many years. The system, which uses artificial intelligence to continuously improve the way it detects smoke plumes, notifies operators to the likely presence of a fire. The operator then alerts emergency responders, who are able to be provided with real-time images and meteorological data to help them determine the best and safest approach to combating the fire.

This new technology will augment existing efforts of government and the companies that constitute the Green Triangle Alliance, who undertake substantial fire mitigation and response activities, including coordinating a fleet of industry-funded tankers, including Vikings; bulk water carriers; slip-on units; quick-response vehicles; as well as access to graders, dozers and aerial appliances as needed, such as a spotter plane and a B2 Squirrel water bombing helicopter.

I would like to thank all of the staff for the information and the warm welcome we received, both myself and the Minister for Emergency Services. Indeed, that warm welcome was reflected across the Limestone Coast community during last week's country cabinet. It was overwhelmingly positive.

This government will continue to engage strongly with the regions because we care, because we want to listen to local communities and because it's the right thing to do. South Australians living in regional areas can be assured that this government is being proactive in identifying new technologies to keep them safe from bushfires, and they can be assured that this government will go to their communities and will listen to what they need.