Legislative Council: Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Fire Towers

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (14:35): My question is to the Minister for Forest Industries. Will the minister update the chamber about the government's commitment to upgrade fire towers in the South-East?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:35): I thank the honourable member for his question. I am delighted to update the chamber on this very important news. Members on this side of the chamber keep their promises when they make an election commitment, and that is exactly what we are doing with the Green Triangle fire observation towers that are set to be upgraded in time for the next season's fire season.

Members interjecting:


Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! I am really struggling to hear the minister today. Minister, please continue.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Prior to the election the then Malinauskas Labor opposition made a commitment to the forest industry to upgrade the fire towers in the South-East with new technology. The Green Triangle Plantation Forest region is one of the powerhouses of the Australian forest industry, with the South Australian region contributing more than $860 million to the state's gross state product annually, making it one of the state's most productive sectors. If I recall correctly, that is separate to associated values such as the transport industry and so on.

It is critical that we work with industry to protect the region's 130,000 hectares of plantation estate, along with other primary producers who live and work in this region and who contribute so much to the primary producer sector. That is why I was delighted to head out on what was, I must say, a somewhat windy Mount Burr day last week with the chair of the Green Triangle Fire Alliance, Mick Theobald, and local members of the CFS to formally announce that work was set to start shortly in upgrading fire towers with new technologies aimed at improving the ability to detect fires early.

The upgrade works will be overseen by the Green Triangle Fire Alliance, and all upgrade works will be completed in time for the 2023-24 fire season. The fire towers that we are looking at are Penola North—which, along with new technology, a whole new tower will be constructed at Penola North. The existing tower was built in 1934, so it is certainly due to be replaced. Other upgrades will be at Mount Burr, Mount Edward, Furner, The Bluff, Comaum and Mount Benson.

I would like to take this opportunity to put on the record my thanks and appreciation to the chair of the Green Triangle Fire Alliance, Mick Theobald, and all the members of the GTFA for their steadfast commitment to ensure that these upgrades are done in a safe and efficient manner. This is a great example to point to of state government and industry working together, step by step, to deliver better outcomes for the forest industry. I look forward to having the opportunity to go out and inspect some of these upgrades in the future as the work progresses between now and the start of the 2023-24 fire season.

The government's investment in landscape-level fire detection technologies will be critical in protecting the plantations but also the communities surrounding them, whose livelihoods depend on the land now and into the future, and I look forward to updating this place about the upgrades later this year.