Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (12:06): By leave, I move my motion in an amended form:
That this house—
(a) recognises the importance of South Australia’s regional areas to the state’s visitor economy;
(b) recognises the potential of Mount Gambier and the wider Limestone Coast region’s unique natural assets in the nature-based and adventure tourism sectors; and
(c) calls on the state government through SATC to prioritise product development and tourism experiences in future funding opportunities.
Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:26): I rise to support this motion by the member for Mount Gambier in promoting regional tourism. Certainly regional tourism during the depths of COVID really had a boost, as people found bits of South Australia that, potentially, they barely knew existed. As one who loves travelling around in the bush in South Australia and further afield, I was intrigued to see the number of people who were travelling up north through Hawker, through Leigh Creek where they were going further on and going to Maree or up the Strzelecki Track to Innamincka, William Creek, Oodnadatta and all around the great reaches of the outback.
As people found at the time they could not go overseas, there was a boom in caravan sales and offroad vehicles, and it was great to see people taking those opportunities to visit the outer reaches of this great state because there is so much to see and so much to do. I hope that means that, now they have had their eyes opened, more people will take that opportunity to visit all those places and others into the future.
Areas to visit on the Limestone Coast include places like the Naracoorte Caves, which is a great place I have visited several times over the years. Apart from being able to visit the caves, they have events there like weddings and so on, which is a great boost for the local economy as well. Closer to home, in the seat of Hammond things have really moved along for the regional offerings over time.
The Langhorne Creek wine district is a magnificent winegrowing area in this state, noting that the wine industry is suffering a bit of a downturn. It has had quite a large reliance on the China market, and that has had a real effect, especially with this last vintage, right across the state, not just Langhorne Creek but the Clare Valley, the Barossa, the South-East, Coonawarra, and the Riverland.
Right across the state has taken a bit of a belting, to be frank, but they will need to be resilient, and hopefully we get some good outcomes into the future, as we have with the barley market reopening into China. It just goes to show that not only do you have to be resilient but you have to be broad ranging with your marketing and targeting of markets to make sure that you can not just survive but grow into the future.
There are some magnificent wineries through Langhorne Creek, such as Lake Breeze, Bleasdale and Bremerton to name just a few. Woodburn Homestead is a magnificent venue for weddings and other events, and a friend of mine got married there during COVID. It was an interesting time, and I was actively involved in talking to the authorities on what could and could not happen. We managed to make it work, but they were difficult times.
Certainly, Strathalbyn is a very beautiful part of my electorate, just up from Langhorne Creek heading into the Hills, with the Angas River running through and the Hills right next door. There is also Goolwa, which I have had the pleasure of looking after for two terms but which is now in the member for Finniss's electorate. There is Milang as well, down by the lake. These are beautiful parts of the state.
There are the Milang shacks. Thankfully, we managed to pursue legislation to get them freeholded, alongside Alexandrina Council, so that owners can take ownership of those shacks. Previously, when the lifetime lease ran out, those shacks would be essentially bulldozed and could not stay there.
They are quite a novelty down at Milang, and they have been part of the culture of there since the 1950s, although there might have been a couple built earlier than that. They really make up part of that great area around there. There is also obviously Goolwa, down near the Murray Mouth and the end of the River Murray system in the country, and home of the Oscar W. It is a beautiful part of the world.
Getting back closer to the Mallee regions, we have Murray Bridge and Monarto. It was great to see the former Liberal federal and state governments invest money into the new Safari Park Visitor Centre. It is a magnificent centre, and I was very proud and privileged to open it last year with Tony Pasin, the federal member. I note that the former Premier and others were there. It is a magnificent centre with those free-roaming animals.
You could not have met anyone more excited than I was when Elaine Bensted made a personal phone call to me the day she made the announcement about the elephants coming to Monarto. We have not had elephants in this state since 1994, and I have been campaigning to Elaine for many years to get elephants in this state. She kept telling me the reasons why we could not have elephants: 'Because they kill more keepers than any other animal in the world,' she told me. I take that as fact.
They are very hard to contain. You obviously need to have the right fencing and other handling techniques, but they have become used to some of that heavy containment with the rhinos at Monarto. No-one was more excited than I was to hear that we are going to have three Asian elephants at Monarto. That will really set off the Safari Park, alongside the co-investment with Gerry Ryan, the boss of Jayco.
The beautiful thing about that is that Victorian money is coming into Monarto to build, I think, a 78-room hotel that cannot be far off completion, alongside about 22 glamping sites so that you can go glamping out there and look over at the lions. I think there is at least one fence between you and the lions, so do not fear. I can just see that really adding to the visitor economy as we move forward.
We also have other things we have invested in, such as the Bridges Event Centre, which is the Murray Bridge Racing Club and a fantastic venue. The Gold Cup is coming up this year on 7 October, a Saturday. It is essentially a metropolitan meeting and will be a great event happening on a Saturday and not on a Friday, so if you are keen to get up there and have a look, get up there.
The new Bridgeport Hotel has been built in the last few years, and I take my hat off to Ian Tregoning and Graham Hobbs from that group. I have been talking to their group for about nine years, and I said, 'Look, let's get this thing built so that we can enhance the visitor economy.' It has been a great build. We had to get through some heritage issues with the old pub, and that sort of thing, but we got there. It is a 100-room hotel and a magnificent centre for Murray Bridge.
Notwithstanding that, we have The Bend Motorsport Park and, in the little bit of time I have left, I want to say it was great to work with Sam Shahin and the Shahin family and others to make sure that we had the opportunity to have racing and now drags come to The Bend, and I think the first meet is on 21 October. I will certainly be there, just like I was back in 1979 when the drags were at The Bend, with Blue Thunder, the jet truck. The bend, too, has 100 rooms, plus a caravan park with cabins.
There is so much going on. I have only really touched the sides, but they are some of the major places that encourage people—many, many tens of thousands—to come into the region, and other people are learning the joys of regional tourism right across this state.