South Australian Cooperatives

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:39 :47 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation questions about cooperatives in South Australia.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I note that the opportunity that cooperatives can provide for socially, economically and environmentally sustainable employment in our state is great. In fact, around the world community cooperatives are fast gaining approval for funding by governments at all levels as the business model is one that inherently keeps jobs and profits in local communities.

The minister would be aware of the initiative of the former Ingham turkey workers, who hope to take over the now abandoned processing factory in McLaren Vale and set up a community cooperative working with local producers and other community stakeholders. I also acknowledge the recent work of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (Leon Bignell) in enabling a feasibility study to explore the business case for such a course of action.

The results of that study are now completed and indicate that the venture is viable, with the potential for 50 direct full-time jobs in the region and many more flow-on jobs, the potential to expand both small, medium and large-scale poultry production in that region, and the potential for the factory to generate millions of dollars of economic activity in the region.

Unfortunately, there appear to be some bureaucratic obstacles that prohibit this kind of community cooperative from accessing funds and grants in the critical start-up phase for setting up the business, this red tape roadblock coming despite previous advice from departmental contacts indicating that this option would be possible for the Fleurieu worker–producer cooperative to gain such a loan through the existing structures. My questions to the minister therefore are:

1. Will the minister commit to assist the Fleurieu worker-producer co-op by removing the red tape roadblocks to access the requested $2 million loan from the state government for the purchase of the factory?

2. Will the minister commit to working on a plan such as setting up a cooperative development agency in South Australia so that other redundant manufacturing workers can also be assisted in developing sustainable enterprises that make the most use of their skills to produce goods and services that are needed locally within our state and in some cases with potential for national and international markets?

3. What other courses of action will the minister undertake to support this and other cooperatives to flourish in our state?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation)
( 15:42 :20 ): I thank the honourable member for her important questions, her support of industry in South Australia and her support of a cooperative model, whether it be in industry or in terms of how we relate to each other in here. I know that the member for Mawson, as the minister responsible, has met regularly with the proponents of this plan and I know that he acknowledges that they are doing a terrific job.

In terms of the various models of enterprises, I am not specifically aware of what barriers there might be for a cooperative model, but I am very happy to talk to my department about whether there are in fact barriers that prevent being able to access funding, whether it is government funding or private sector funding, and if there is anything we can do as a government to help with that.

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