Election: Heysen – food, wine, agriculture are top issues

Election: Heysen – food, wine, agriculture are top issues

Cattle National

Candidates are Australian Conservatives’ Lynette Stevenson, Labor’s Tony Webb, Greens’ Lynton Vonow, SA Best’s John Illingworth, Liberal Josh Teague and Dignity Party’s Andrew Ey.


The electorate of Heysen will have a new representative following the state election this month with former Liberal leader Isobel Redmond retiring at the conclusion of her term.

There are six candidates vying for the Heysen seat – Australian Conservatives’ Lynette Stevenson, Labor’s Tony Webb, Greens’ Lynton Vonow, SA Best’s John Illingworth, Liberal Josh Teague and Dignity Party’s Andrew Ey.

What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing Heysen?

STEVENSON: Issues facing Heysen include the need for more education opportunities, lack of aged care support, little funding for mental health, failure by government to maintain our roads, the avenue that our natural resource management has taken and the cost of doing business.

We have committed money to addressing the backlog of maintenance in hospitals, have a plan to reduce water costs for agriculture, to remove meters on dams and want and will introduce Right to Farm legislation to farmers’ rights from mining practices.

WEBB: There are many challenges in the Heysen electorate, not least how we make the transition to a more sustainable energy future. Of particular relevance to the farming community, but a number of people I’ve spoken with have said that “we are our own worst enemy”. There is scope for much closer co-operation between producers such that the Adelaide Hills becomes better recognised as a quality food and wine region – as communities such as the Clare and Barossa Valleys have done.

TEAGUE: Like the rest of SA, people in the Hills struggle with high costs of living. We've also suffered the failure by the Labor government in the last decade or more to invest in regional services, as well as transport and communications infrastructure. Key among those is the neglect of regional health services. We've also committed to long-term regional investment including roads, mobile networks, emergency services and local hospitals. 

EY: The long overlooked need for expanded and improved public transport in the Hills, including ensuring fully accessible buses. From decent transport options a lot of other opportunities will flow.  We also need to create strong, sustainable jobs locally to be more than a series of dormitory suburbs. 

What do you see as the major issue affecting SA agriculture? How would you rectify this?

STEVENSON: I am passionate that farmland must be protected to ensure that healthy food production can go on. We must protect our farms from foreign investors tied to nations whose interests are at odds with our own. We need to be careful to protect prime agricultural land from urban sprawl with proper planning at the state level. 

WEBB: There is scope for much closer cooperation between producers such that the Adelaide Hills becomes better recognised as a quality food and wine region – as communities such as the SA Clare and Barossa Valleys have done. I’ve been exploring with various producers how this might be done and whether there is scope for new food processing facilities that might contribute value-adding to the local industry and create quality jobs in the towns across the constituency.

TEAGUE: In my experience, farmers know and care for their land, and mainly want government to stay out of the way. Two ways in which we would do that, and help at the same time, are first, by ensuring that there is efficient access to market, and particularly export markets, for our local produce. In Heysen, we would do that by building a new dedicated road and rail corridor direct to the port, as well as investing in improving the regional roads network. 

Secondly, we would reform natural resources management in the state to ensure that those who live and work on the land have an opportunity to lead, and benefit from, NRM, rather than just pay and comply. 

EY: Climate change and competing with the lower cost of production in other countries.  We can claim market advantage with our clean, green provenance, value-adding and by encouraging more efficient production. 

What are your views on allowing mining on prime farming land in Heysen?

STEVENSON: We have plans to annex our arable farm and grazing lands using legislation that would protect it from open-cut mining practices. We are not anti-mining but believe this arable land, which makes up only 5 per cent of SA, must be protected to ensure we can continue being major food producers. Our amendment will have little impact on the mining sector as most mineral deposits are found outside of our arable land leaving miners with plenty of other areas to explore.

WEBB: The Stock Journal survey asks specifically about mining on prime agricultural land. My view is that there is little scope for this in Heysen and, more generally, that preservation of farming and the water supplies it depends on should take priority. These are needed to serve many generations into the future. 

Short-term mining ventures should only be undertaken where there is a proven need and where controls are in place to ensure long-term environmental damage does not occur.

TEAGUE: Mining and agriculture are both important industries in regional SA, and we need to make sure there is balance. The Liberals have announced that the small business commissioner will be able to act on behalf of landowners (who are usually smaller and less resourced than mining companies) to even up the playing field.

EY: We need to protect prime farming land from encroachment by mining, housing and other development.  In the Adelaide Hills this also preserves the visual amenity of the landscape, and that’s important too.

Do you support the moratorium on genetically-modified crops? Why?

WEBB: I support the present state moratorium. The evidence does not support claims of any financial benefit from the products seeking a license from the community for their development.

TEAGUE: I support a review of the moratorium. We need to look at the science and the actual quantifiable benefit available to our growers, and make a decision based on that.

EY: The Dignity Party have supported the extension to the GM moratorium.

  • Lynton Vonow and John Illingworth were invited to participate but did not respond before deadline.

John Illingworth – SA Best

SA BEST candidate John Illingworth joined the SA Police in 1979 and served much of his early career at Port Adelaide.

During his career he developed an understanding of the value of a strong community and the benefits of good working relationships with community representatives.

Promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1988, Mr Illingworth, his wife Cathy and their newborn daughter moved to Port Augusta where he was responsible for managing the police prosecution service. 

Josh Teague – Liberal

JOSH Teague and his wife Maria, along with their three children, live at Bridgewater. Mr Teague has a lifelong interest in farming, and having grown up with the family on the land with mixed farming, mainly sheep, cattle and cropping.

At the family farm on the Fleurieu, Mr Teague runs a small mob of cattle. He is a lawyer with 20 years’ experience in resolving commercial disputes.

He also volunteers as Honorary Consul of Sweden for SA, and with Nature Foundation SA.

Tony Webb – Labor

LABOR candidate Tony Webb’s background has included several years work with the London Food Commission on issues relating to United Kingdom and European food policy. 

In Australia he coordinated a Food Policy Alliance initiative that brought together farmer, consumer and trade union groups in the 1990s exploring how quality standards, labelling – particularly, more honest country of origin labelling – and better inspection of food imports could assist in building a more sustainable ‘paddock-to- plate’ food industry. 

He has done research and taught on supply chain management issues to university students and assisted in promoting community co-operatives where growers, workers and communities have been affected by food factory closures – the latest of these being in McLaren Vale when the Inghams’ turkey factory closed in 2014.

Andrew Ey – Dignity

ANDREW Ey has retired from a career in hospitality, administration and a career as a support worker for people with disabilities, and is now running for the Heysen seat with the Dignity Party. 

“There is a need for more information and awareness in the community about people with disabilities,” he said.

“People with disabilities need more options for choice, and I am especially keen to see increased post-school options and employment opportunities.”

“SA’s ageing population will not be able to rely on private vehicles, so alternatives must be found now.” 

Lynton Vonow – Greens

AS A farm boy from the Mid North, Greens candidate Lynton Vonow had a “wonderful life” growing up on on the family farm, and also grew up appreciating the difficulty of making a living from farming. 

He studied Science and Education at the University of Adelaide and worked as a teacher in rural and regional SA.

He is presently a re-elected Adelaide Hills Council councillor and values sustainable businesses and agriculture, sustainable environments and sustainable communities.

Lynette Stevenson – Australian Conservatives

LYNETTE Stevenson is contesting the Heysen seat, having grown up in the Adelaide Hills, attended school at Mylor Primary and played tennis and netball throughout the electorate.

She has had broad life experiences, ranging from 25 years of Army service – in both full-time and part-time positions. 

Mrs Stevenson has been farming for 23 years and also worked for a stock and station agent, as an aged care worker and has a bachelors degree in psychology and sociology. 

“I am standing for Heysen because I am angry at Labor’s mismanagement of the budget, for selling off our essential services like Forestry, SA Lotteries, the Motor Accident Commission, and the Lands Title Office,” she said.

“Now we have less assets and the government is still in debt.”


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