Legislative Council: Tuesday, June 14, 2022


One Basin CRC and CRC SAAFE

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (15:09): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister inform the chamber about SARDI's involvement in the One Basin CRC and CRC SAAFE?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:09): I thank the honourable member for his question. SARDI is, without a doubt, a world-leading research organisation that the people of our state can rightly be immensely proud of. The work that it does, often in partnership with other organisations and other levels of government, is simply incredible. There is no other term for it, it is absolutely incredible, and it paves the way forward for a number of industries and learning institutions to build upon.

Today, talking about further developments of these kinds of partnerships includes SARDI's participation in two newly funded cooperative research centres, the One Basin CRC and the CRC for Solving Antimicrobial Resistance in Agribusiness, Food and Environments. The One Basin Cooperative Research Centre is led by the University of Melbourne and is a focused collaboration that is developing policy and technical and financial solutions to support and reduce exposure to climate, water and environmental threats in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The CRC has three interlinked programs to tackle major agriculture water challenges in the Murray-Darling Basin. These programs are named Foresight and Decisions, Technology and Opportunities, and Capability and Commercialisation. The federal government announced in May 2022 that the One Basin CRC was successful in its application for a $50 million grant through the commonwealth CRC Program. A further $106.5 million will be provided from the CRC's 85 partners over 10 years. I guess, in hearing those figures, we can all get a sense of the scale of the research that's being undertaken, which is fantastic.

Over the course of the One Basin Cooperative Research Centre's 10-year term, research will be concentrated across four regional basin hubs around the country, being Loxton, Mildura, Griffith and Goondiwindi. PIRSA and SARDI will be playing a lead role in the Loxton hub. SARDI is a tier 2 partner in the One Basin CRC and will undertake research projects in its own right and in collaboration with other partners.

SARDI has been supported through an initial quick-start project within the CRC's Foresight and Decisions program, one of the three interlinked programs that I mentioned. In this project, SARDI researchers will model changes in irrigation demand for major irrigated crops across the basin and for a range of climate change scenarios. The project outcomes will provide a better understanding of the changes in crop water demand to support growers and irrigation supply companies in their medium to long-term planning. It will also inform other innovation strategies with the Cooperative Research Centre, including transformational planning, demands on technology and infrastructure and adaptation plans.

The second program is the Cooperative Research Centre for Solving Antimicrobial Resistance in Agribusiness, Food and Environments. That doesn't really roll off the tongue, so I will stick to the acronym CRC SAAFE from here in. In May 2022, the federal government confirmed grant funding of $34½ million dollars to CRC SAAFE, whose 70 partners will contribute an additional $115 million in cash and in-kind support. The CRC is led by UniSA.

SARDI is one of those 70 partners who will contribute to the antimicrobial resistance response for the Australian agribusiness, food, organic waste and environmental management sectors. Antimicrobial resistance poses a threat to the security and growth of Australia's food and agribusiness sectors and also, of course, puts our water security and circular economy at risk. One of the most important objectives of this CRC is to tackle resistance to essential antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals. If not addressed, that resistance could wipe up to $283 billion from the Australian economy by 2050, so it's obviously incredibly important work.

Once again, I thank SARDI for their important work and for being involved in these important national projects and partnerships that really do have significance, not just to our state but also nationally and internationally.