House of Assembly - Thursday, 11 November 2010, Page 2045

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:38): I rise today to talk about the much-anticipated upcoming South Australian grain harvest. The Premier quite rightly indicated a couple of weeks ago that the upcoming harvest will be in excess of nine million tonnes this year. At the current grain prices, this will be an extraordinary boost into the state's economy. It will be a record crop harvested by the state's farmers. The value is expected to be around $1.8 billion, which is a huge boost to the state's economy.

However, going along with this state's grain harvest are some logistical issues that need to be considered. The harvest is just beginning out west and in the upper north of South Australia at the moment. The headers are starting to roll and the harvest will continue through until about Christmas time, so in the next six, seven, eight weeks or so nine million tonnes will be delivered into the state's grain storage.

Part of this logistical exercise is the job of hauling the grain from the paddock to the grain storage or silos, as they are commonly referred to. We have an issue right around the state, but it seems to have been highlighted on the West Coast of late, with road train access to roads from farm to silo. Many roads have been gazetted already, or are declared major transport routes, and road trains are quite able to access these transport routes or roadways. However, there is an issue in many districts with getting the fully laden road trains from the paddock, from the farm, onto the gazetted roads.

Now, a system of permits has existed in the past. At some point in the last little while, it has been indicated to local government that the system of permits was no longer available. Well of course, this left heavy vehicle operators, haulage carriers and farmers themselves at a bit of a loose end, because they had no way of gaining approval to have their road trains access the roads that they needed to.

On discussions with DTEI, it seems they have had second thoughts about this and reinstated the permit system. However, that message has failed to get through to local government and, more particularly, the operators themselves. It has really left operators up in the air at a very critical time of the year.

The permit process itself is convoluted. There seems to be no consistency between local government areas as to how this permit system operates. Some local government areas do it very well and have many roads gazetted, some have a blanket gazettal right across their particular area. Other councils have been reluctant to go down this path, have stuck to gazetting major roadways and thoroughfares and relied on the permit system, which, as I said, is convoluted, inconsistent and difficult to understand. Also, the time frames involved are well in excess of what producers would expect.

This issue has been highlighted of late, as I said, with the upcoming grain harvest. I would also like to make the point that producers need to be able to run road trains. More and more individual farmers, sole operators, are now running road trains as they strive for efficiencies and competitiveness. We have to remember that we are, quite rightly, operating in a global market and need to be competitive in those world markets and on the world stage. Part of that competitiveness is gaining all the efficiencies we possibly can. So, I would actually urge DTEI to reconsider this convoluted process and make permits far more accessible and easier to access or overhaul the process entirely.

In my remaining few seconds, I would like to reinforce the calls of the member for Chaffey for the government to reconsider its position on the Yamba and Ceduna quarantine stations. I have to ask what price the government puts on protection of this state's agricultural and horticultural enterprises. The only answer I can really find is that the value of that protection is, in fact, 4.4¬†full‑time equivalent jobs, which I think is a sad indictment on the state government.