Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:00): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister please update the house on how the Marshall Liberal government is contributing to COVID recovery in South Australia by helping to fill agricultural employment gaps?
Mr Malinauskas: Here we go! He's getting ready.
The SPEAKER: The leader!
The Hon. D.K.B. BASHAM (Finniss—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:01): I thank the member for such an important question. The regional areas are certainly being challenged by the current environment that we face, particularly around seasonal workers and in particular, I guess as we head into the grain season, there is normal need for a significant number of workers in that space in a seasonal capacity.
We have seen a huge grain crop planted this year: 3.9 million hectares have been planted in South Australia and 70 per cent was actually sown dry, which also adds to the challenge because much of that crop is actually going to mature at very similar times and put a real peak into the season that wouldn't have necessarily normally been there if it had been planted with a normal wet autumn. The fact that the rains didn't arrive until early June has certainly put extra challenges into this space.
The important thing is it is estimated this is going to be a $2.8 billion crop coming out of the South Australian grain industry coming forward. This is a huge development and commitment into our state with that amount of grain crop coming forward, and it's certainly one of if not the highest likely in value.
I guess the issue about seasonal workers is certainly a challenge, particularly in this space. We have seen the ag sector particularly find this challenging as it is not able to necessarily source traditional workers from whether it be interstate or overseas to fill the job shortages. Backpackers were traditionally used, who may not be travelling around Australia as much, if they are even here. We also have grey nomads who travel for seasonal workers' jobs as well, so it is really quite challenging.
Recently, I was joined by the Attorney-General and the Viterra chief operations officer, James Murray, to highlight the thousand jobs that are available in the agriculture industry, particularly the grains sector. We have seen the challenges they are facing. A lot of the challenge is actually whether they have accommodation available for these workers in their particular areas.
Viterra certainly has raised this issue with the Marshall Liberal government and we have worked with them to look to find a solution. One of the options that was certainly put to us and we have been able to deliver is the ability to put temporary accommodation at the grain silo receival sites themselves. This is giving the ability to put a needs-based accommodation option in place that can be placed on site and allow those workers to actually commence that work when necessary.
The challenges that certainly face this industry are not just for the grain industry but also for the Riverland. We see the need for workers has been alleviated by bringing 800 seasonal workers in from the Pacific Islands through the Paringa facility that was set up there. We have seen $6,000 on offer from the federal government to bring workers in to make sure that we have those workers in South Australia and in the regions.
It is important that we continue to work with industry, to make sure that we have those options going forward, to make sure that we are able to service and deliver that grain crop to the market and to make sure that the South Australian economy is kept strong by its traditional industries. As we see right here on the carpet, grain is such an important part of South Australia and will continue to be, and a Marshall Liberal government will work with industry to deliver.