Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Murraylands and Riverland Strategic Plan

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (15:25): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister inform the chamber about the launch of the Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland Strategic Direction 2023+ document and the important work the organisation is doing to support the region's resilience and to embrace new opportunities?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:25): I thank the honourable member for his question. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the launch of the RDA Murraylands and Riverland strategic plan at Monarto last Tuesday, as I was attending the launch of the Riverland Wine Industry Blueprint in Lyrup on the same day. Fortunately, I was still able to provide an address to the forum via teleconferencing. Throughout the state, the Regional Development Australia network performs important roles. They include:

developing and implementing projects and programs to address region-specific opportunities;

promoting initiatives and programs of the network's state, commonwealth and local government funding partners;

developing strategies to facilitate growth and prosperity;

facilitating new and existing investment; and

providing advice to the South Australian government on economic and regional development opportunities.

Each region of our state is of course incredibly diverse, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to regional development. Each region's strategic plan and priority actions should therefore be based on the economic and physical landscape within which they work, as well as the lived experience of people in business and the community.

In this light, I am pleased that the Strategic Direction 2023+ document has been developed by primarily drawing on the Murraylands and Riverland plan, which was itself developed in close partnership with the Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association and regional landscape board, and included consultation with over 550 regional community members.

It is no secret, obviously, that in recent years the Riverland has been confronted by extensive flooding; biosecurity challenges, including an ongoing fruit fly response and now the management of varroa mite; volatile market conditions, including the loss of the China market for key products, including wine and barley; inflation and the high costs of inputs; as well as labour shortages.

The RDA Murraylands and Riverland have been active in supporting actions to respond to many of these challenges, many of which of course apply to all of the area of the Murraylands and Riverland. I am advised that, in recent years, the organisation has invested heavily in the Agri Food Tourism Development Program and has supported the Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association's waste management strategy, public health plan and regional freight options paper. It has managed the Murray River Study Hub on behalf of the Rural City of Murray Bridge, run the #WeAreHere campaign to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic and supported the region's River Murray flood recovery work.

The Strategic Direction 2023+ document also looks forward to supporting the Riverland and Murraylands region to embrace future opportunities. The vision is for the Murraylands and Riverland to be recognised internationally as a vibrant, world-leading circular economy with high-performing businesses, resilient communities and individuals with a deep sense of wellbeing and connection to the region who are also aware of global opportunities. This means the RDA supporting projects such as Greenhill's proposal to build the $425 million Riverbend Energy Hub at Tailem Bend, which I am advised will have the capability to take organic and other waste products, including that sourced from major Murraylands food processing companies, and turn this material into hydrogen gas.

I congratulate the RDA Murraylands and Riverland on the launch of their strategic plan, Strategic Direction 2023+, and I look forward to the collaborative regional development work that it may facilitate.