Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:27): I rise today to raise serious community concerns from the people in the Riverland about the future of Renmark Police Station. Renmark Police Station is operating on bare bones or on stand-by until there is an available patrol, and it is only open when particular patrols are not out on the beat. The Renmark-Paringa district is home to 9,000 people and the closest station is at Berri, which is about 20 minutes away.
The Riverland has suffered a population exodus in the 12 months to June 2016, raising a number of concerns about economic growth, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Between 30 June 2015 and 30 June 2016, the Riverland lost a net total of more than 300 people, raising concerns about the impact of high unemployment and current barriers to providing career opportunities for youth in the region.
Trade statistics released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) should have alarm bells ringing in the State Government as merchandise exports to key trading regions the United States, China, Middle East and ASEAN plummeted by a combined $1 billion.
As the State Government hosts a business mission to Indonesia and the Philippines, merchandise export values in the 12 months to February 2017 with ASEAN (which includes both countries) are down by more than $200 million.
As communities in the Riverland face significant challenges in the battle against illicit drugs, the Weatherill Government last week blocked legislation that would have allowed parents, police and child protection officers to apply to a court for mandatory treatment orders for a child addicted to illicit drugs.
The Controlled Substances (Youth Treatment Orders) Amendment Bill would have led to the establishment of a vital facility for the treatment of young people struggling with drug addiction.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:24): I stand here, 138 days after a devastating hailstorm ripped through the Riverland and marginal Mallee country and decimated a huge amount of country and productive horticulture and agriculture, to put on record my disappointment, which cannot be overstated, at the process for assistance for these impacted growers. The sudden and unprecedented hailstorm left an estimated damage bill of somewhere in the vicinity of $100 million to nearly 260 properties. The full effects of the storm are yet to be felt. Wine grapes, stone fruits, citrus, almonds, potatoes, onions and cereal crops and more were impacted.
The State Liberals have introduced legislation to give lasting peace of mind to shack owners across South Australia and the Riverland.
If passed, the legislation will allow lessees of ‘life-lease’ shack sites to enter into permanent arrangements, fulfilling the State Liberal’s longstanding commitment to allowing South Australian shack owners to enjoy their properties for generations to come.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:18): One thing that never ceases to amaze me in the Riverland is the way that the community gathers to support events. This was evident on the weekend at Loxton's feast of colour, excitement and pride, the 60th Loxton Mardi Gras, which was another outstanding success. It is one of the longest running festivals in Australia and one of the oldest festival in South Australia. Many people associate Mardi Gras with the Sydney event, but in Loxton the meaning behind the name is religious—Mardi meaning Tuesday and Gras meaning grand. It is a family religious festival to eat up big before the austerity of Lent.
Opportunists are taking advantage of the hottest tickets in town for tomorrow night’s New Year’s Eve Big Bash at Adelaide Oval with tickets being sold at massively over-inflated prices.
Despite a sell-out crowd, the Weatherill Government’s failure to declare the match a Major Event has left the door open for ticket scalpers who are free to charge whatever they like for tickets to the game.