New Ag Minister David Basham vows to leave regions better off

BIOSECURITY CHECK: New Minister David Basham, Biosecurity SA's Nathan Rhodes, Yamba manager Craig Solly and local MP Tim Whetstone.
BIOSECURITY CHECK: New Minister David Basham, Biosecurity SA's Nathan Rhodes, Yamba manager Craig Solly and local MP Tim Whetstone.

The mantra of new Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham is to leave agriculture and regional SA better off under his watch.

"I see that I am someone here to facilitate those good changes," he said.

"There was very little spent in my electorate under Labor but I am proud in the last two-and-a-half years that has really changed.

"We have been able to get a secondary school for the largest population town without one (Goolwa), that is one of my proudest achievements to-date."

The Member for Finniss says as a member of a multi-generational farming family who settled in the Mount Compass area in the 1840s, he has a strong passion for agriculture.

"I have always loved being a farmer and recognise the importance of our primary industries to SA's economy," he said.

Since entering politics he is also pleased to have been able to help strengthen the farm trespass laws and address the "imbalance" in farmer-activist rights.

"It was a very important change to make sure farmers are better protected, because in most cases it is their home as well as their business," he said.

Mr Basham says he has no plans to backflip on any legislation of previous ag minister Tim Whetstone. He is fully supportive of the lifting of the 16-year moratorium on growing genetically-modified crops and the " zero tolerance" quarantine crackdown for those risking the state's fruit fly-free status.

A recent trip to the Flinders Ranges with his family also hit home for Mr Basham just how dry the northern areas of the state are.

He is committed to working to ensure ongoing drought support.

"It is tough for them to have such a long, dry spell. We need to support good farmers to make sure they make it to the other side," he said.

Despite more than 30 years as a dairyfarmer and 11 years at the helm of the SA Dairyfarmers' Association, he has no preconceived agenda for the industry.

"I've never liked former presidents stepping in when I was leading boards and I don't think now even as a Minister it is appropriate to step in and fix things that I thought needed fixing when I was there - I will wait to see what the industry comes to me with," he said.

Mr Basham is expecting a busy schedule but if he can "make it work", he is particularly keen to continue as a dairy steward at the Royal Adelaide Show.

It is a role he has relished since he was 19 years of age.

"I love what the show stands for - educating everyone from country to city about agriculture and Adelaide does it well," he said.

Primary Industries Minister David Basham says he supports the government's success in lifting the 16 year moratorium on GM crops paving the way for GM-canola to be grown in mainland SA.

Primary Industries Minister David Basham says he supports the government's success in lifting the 16 year moratorium on GM crops paving the way for GM-canola to be grown in mainland SA.

GM POTENTIAL

NEW Primary Industries Minister David Basham says the genetically-modified crops legislation is a "pretty good compromise" with councils able to present a case if they wish remain GM-free.

"It is very important to understand there is so much happening in the GM development of different plants," he said. "At this point in time it is focused on canola but into the future it may be pasture plants that may need to be assessed, so it is a much wider picture than just the cropping industry."

STRONG BIOSECURITY

More than 3000 people of the 9000 caught entering SA with fruit at the Yamba roadblock are appealing their fines, but Mr Basham - who visited the checkpoint in the Riverland on Tuesday - says the signage is clear.

"We have signs on the road telling us what speed limit you can do and if you break that and get caught then you are fined - I don't have any problem with that same approach as the signage is telling you that you need to dump your fruit now," he said.

CUTTING RED TAPE

One of Mr Basham's pre-election priorities was reducing government red tape. He sees an opportunity for more productive agriculture in peri-urban areas.

"There is lots of great farming land in the Mount Lofty Ranges that is not being farmed because it is owned by a hobby farmer or lifestyle farmer and in many cases they don't really want the land.

"At the moment it is a long and tedious process of subdivision and re-aligning pieces of land for people that want to farm. I will be talking to the Attorney General (Vickie Chapman) in her new role as Planning Minister to see if there is something that we can do."

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This story Basham to push agenda for thriving SA regions first appeared on The Times.