Biosecurity, drought and the health and wellbeing of farmers are some of the issues South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Hon. Tim Whetstone MP, will be focusing on in 2019.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I hail from Keith in SA’s South-East where my family had dryland farms and livestock. On finishing my schooling I completed a tool-maker apprenticeship at General Motors Holden and went on to become a project manager on the Moomba gas fields.
After moving to the Riverland in 1989, I purchased a citrus property and developed vineyards. From there I also held positions as a director of the Renmark Irrigation Trust and chairman of SA Murray Irrigators. I moved into politics after being elected to the seat of Chaffey in 2010 and I became Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development in March 2018.
Away from politics I am a father of three children, Nic, Charlotte and Eliza, and I am a dedicated jam maker, encouraging participation in our country shows.
Why did you enter politics?
As a passionate advocate for irrigators and regional communities that rely on the River Murray, I entered politics to represent the people of the Riverland and ensure their voice was heard. Helping to make a difference on behalf of your community is a critical element to being a good local MP.
What are the key areas of focus for your portfolio in 2019?
Under the former government in SA, agriculture and the regions were neglected. My focus is to bring our farmers and their regional communities back to the forefront in SA as they are the key drivers of our economy.
While we have, and continue to face a number of challenges, such as drought, I will work closely with industry to grow our sectors, including the important grains industry. As always, continuing to uphold our pest free biosecurity status is important and I believe there are huge growth opportunities for the state in Ag-Tech and capitalising on commercialising SA’s research and development.
What do you believe are the key agricultural challenges for SA in 2019 and beyond?
Currently SA’s key horticulture region is battling fruit fly, so eradicating that threat is a key challenge. The dry conditions continue to impact our farmers and they need ongoing support, particularly in the health and wellbeing area.
What do you enjoy most about being a Minister?
I enjoy working closely with industry to implement policies that will make a positive change and grow the economic prosperity of the regions in SA.