I seek leave to make an explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Forests regarding the sale of ForestrySA.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The Weatherill Labor government has finalised its privatisation of ForestrySA's timber harvesting rights to OneFortyOne Plantations for the sum of $670 million. Throughout the process, there has been widespread fear that the result will lead to job losses. The government has denied this, and Premier Weatherill said last December:
ForestrySA jobs will be maintained. They'll be a condition of the sale...they'll be enforceable conditions...we won't enter into any arrangements with a purchaser of the future harvesting rights unless they agree to the conditions we want...so they'll be as secure as they need to be.
Even longer ago, in October 2010, the then forestry minister said:
ForestrySA would continue to manage the asset and I think we would probably have some proviso that there be no job losses, that people would have the certainty of employment.
We have now learnt that in discussions surrounding enterprise bargaining agreements with ForestrySA staff it has been made known that half of the ForestrySA workforce will lose their jobs because of the sale process between this government and OneFortyOne Plantations. My questions to the minister are:
1.Why did the Premier say ForestrySA jobs will be maintained, when the opposition has been advised that there will be job losses?
2.Is it true that half or close to 100 of those employed by ForestrySA in the South-East will lose their jobs in the next 24 months?
3.What assurances will the minister give to those ForestrySA employees?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Tourism, Minister for the Status of Women) (15:02): Again, I don't know where the opposition dreams up this information. As far as I am aware, there has been no decision about any job cuts to ForestrySA. The board has not informed me of any decision about any job cuts.
Again, we see the opposition coming in here and scaremongering. They make up information. They come in here and repeat information that they don't bother to follow up, that they don't bother to research and they don't confirm. It is just an absolute nonsense. As I said, the board has not informed me of any decision to make any job cuts and, as far as I am aware, there has been no announcement at all about any decisions on job cuts.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:03): I have a supplementary question. Is the minister saying that she is not aware of any job losses in ForestrySA?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Tourism, Minister for the Status of Women) (15:03): How much clearer can I be? The ForestrySA board has not informed me of any decision to make any job cuts and, to the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of any announcement by anyone—other than the opposition—that there are going to be job cuts.