Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:41): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. What actions is the state government taking to support—
Mr PEDERICK: —continued growth in the state's wool industry? I just wanted a little bit of silence, that's all.
The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (14:41): The Marshall government is proud to support the state's men and women who so diligently produce our wool and meat.
The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: Thank you for your protection, sir. This is something that the opposition obviously know very little about. It's pleasing to see the wool industry enjoying the prosperous conditions with good wool prices at record levels for a generation at 1,983¢ a kilogram last week compared to the price of wool at around $1.25 a kilogram when the opposition were in government. The South Australian sheep industry comprises around 16 per cent of the national flock with some 1.1 million sheep. In 2016-17, it produced around 59 million kilograms of wool. That is a huge economic driver here in South Australia. I am pleased that I attended the Australian Wool Innovation National Marino Challenge at the Wayville showgrounds recently where the state government was a proud sponsor of this important event. It's a strong sign here in South Australia that the Australian Wool Innovation chose to hold this year's event in Adelaide.
I was pleased to meet with the chairman, Wal Merriman. Wal has been a longstanding supporter of the wool industry, and he is an outstanding advocate for an industry that has been through some very, very tough times. It's an industry that South Australia is riding on the back of the sheep as we speak. The Marshall government wants to see wool and livestock industries grow here in South Australia. We are looking at putting strategic plans to grow our flock numbers, to grow our stock numbers, to make sure that we have a good platform and a good base to grow our economy on the back of meat and wool.
I also want to make sure that the government is investing in our wool research projects through SARDI to grow the industry, projects such as the Australian Wool Innovation reproductive technologies, and a project with Meat and Livestock Australia around weaning, increasing lamb and ewe survival. SARDI's Turretfield Research Centre undertakes research for the benefit of the state's primary livestock industries, including the world-class sheep reproductive facilities.
My department is working to build the industry growth, productivity and profitability, partnering with Australian Wool Innovation on sheep extension activities delivered through Rural Solutions SA, including the SheepConnect and pastoral sheep connected programs. My department also has a substantial investment in biosecurity to support the wool industries.
What I will say is that we have acted on our election commitments to fund the wild dog trappers. That is something that the opposition failed to do. While the sheep producers are lying in bed at night wondering how many dogs are on their place and how many sheep are dying, the opposition, the then government, just stood back and let it all happen—shame, absolute shame.
What I will say is that this government is partnering with the industry on a whole wide range of programs to protect the health of our flock, to help increase our flock numbers—the sheep lice extension programs, the footrot control, the abattoir surveillance for diseases, the Ovine Johne's program—and they are supported by a $4 million investment in the Sheep Industry Fund. The government is delighted to support the wool industry and I look forward to working with the state's wool growers, the stud breeders, the shearers, the wool classers, the shed hands and Livestock SA to grow this industry and to grow our economy.