Legislative Council: Thursday, March 23, 2023


Strathalbyn Abattoir

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:29): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on the Strathalbyn abattoir.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: In August 2022, my colleague the member for Hammond and I wrote to the minister, asking why there was a delay in funding for the Strathalbyn abattoir restoration project. In October 2022, the minister responded, citing an 'approved alternative model to allow the project to progress in a timely manner'. On 9 February 2023, I asked the minister why, despite the Treasurer signing a funding deed, the grant to the Fleurieu Community Co-op had still not been paid. At that time, in this chamber, I reiterated feedback from the operator that they had been unable to open the doors of the abattoir for business because of the government's inaction.

Today, 23 March, I have once again received correspondence that this funding has still not been granted, despite the operator assuring me that the department has every detail required and the operator has submitted all planning matters requested. I have also been advised that this continued inaction in releasing approved grant funding is not only causing operations to languish but is putting a strain on private financing commitments and creditors. My question to the minister is:

1. What is the hold-up in releasing the grant funding?

2. If there is a good reason for this hold-up, why has that not been communicated with Fleurieu Community Co-op as the operator?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:31): I thank the honourable member for her question. I would point out that this does come under the Treasurer in terms of executing deeds or equivalent, but I can certainly give some update to the information. The Fleurieu Community Co-operative was awarded $1.5 million by the former government from the Regional Growth Fund. However, the former Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development approved the Fleurieu Community Co-operative application with several conditions, which the Fleurieu Community Co-operative was not able to meet. This meant that the project was very likely to fail before it even commenced.

The Malinauskas Labor government has worked with the Fleurieu Community Co-operative to assist them in overcoming some of the challenges that were presented when the grant was approved by the former government. The funding deed, prepared in consultation with representatives from the Fleurieu Community Co-operative, according to my advice, was executed on 2 December 2022, including four agreed conditions, of which I am advised Fleurieu Community Co-operative had not fully met to date, as at the date of my advice.

I am advised that subsequently the South Australian Government Financing Authority, which manage the Regional Growth Fund funding deeds, are seeking approval from the Treasurer to vary the funding deed to be able to progress the first payment of funds to Fleurieu Community Co-operative. The state government continues to work very closely with the representatives from the Fleurieu Community Co-operative regarding this project. The government hopes to be able to look forward to the project coming to fruition, and my advice is that communication has continued with the cooperative, seeking information when it has not been provided and advising of what is still required, where that has been the case.