The state's agriculture sector has welcomed the rapid ascension of Mount Compass dairyfarmer and first-term MP David Basham as the new Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister.
The appointment follows a tumultuous week in SA politics, with the shock resignation at the weekend of former Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone and Transport, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Minister Stephan Knoll and Trade and Investment Minister David Ridgway.
The former two were accused of inaccurately claiming the Country Members Accommodation Allowance, which is available to regional MPs when they are in Adelaide on official duties.
Mr Basham, whose family have been dairying since the 1840s, was sworn into cabinet yesterday.
As we deal with the coronavirus pandemic, our primary industries will be a critical part of our state's economic recovery.
In his short time as the Member for Finniss, he has left his mark on legislation, including strengthening farm trespass laws.
Mr Basham says it is an honour to be asked to serve as Primary Industries Minister.
"I have a proud history in agriculture and recognise the importance of our regional communities to SA's economy," he said.
"As we deal with the coronavirus pandemic, our primary industries will be a critical part of our state's economic recovery and I look forward to getting on with the job of delivering for our regions."
Prior to entering politics at the 2018 election, Mr Basham had extensive agri-political experience, including more than a decade with the SA Dairyfarmers' Association, including serving as president.
He oversaw the development of the SADA Fresh milk brand, launched in 2013, to generate funds for SA industry development.
In 2016, he stepped up briefly as president of Australian Dairy Farmers until he sought Liberal pre-selection for the Fleurieu Peninsula-based seat held by retiring Liberal member Michael Pengilly.
Primary Producers SA chairman Rob Kerin says agriculture is in "safe hands" with Mr Basham having a broad understanding of agricultural issues.
Related reading:Whetstone, Knoll and Ridgway step down from cabinet
"He has a good dose of common sense and while he has a very good knowledge of dairy, it goes well beyond that from his time sitting on the inaugural board of PPSA," he said.
Mr Kerin says the industry faces some uncertainties, including rebuilding after the devastating bushfires, ongoing drought in many areas, as well as China potentially increasing ag export tariffs, but is confident Mr Basham will be up to the challenge.
"He is a sensible, considerate guy and a good listener, which will hold him in good stead," he said.
SADA president John Hunt also expressed confidence in Mr Basham's abilities.
"I know the passion that David has for agriculture and he does a lot for a lot of things from shows to animal welfare to water policy, having said that Minister Whetstone was good to work with as well and showed compassion for the industry, so it is a bit bittersweet," he said.
Mr Hunt is hopeful Mr Basham will strongly support the SA Dairy Action Plan launched by his predecessor, which aims to tackle issues such as the rising cost of power and levies and help foster stronger relationships processors and farmers.
"To improve the industry we need growth and I'm sure he will want that too for the growth of SA," he said.
Livestock SA president Joe Keynes acknowledged the former Minister's many achievements in the past few years and welcomed Mr Basham's promotion as "good for SA ag".
We believe his industry knowledge, rural background and leadership in state and national farm bodies prior to entering Parliament, will serve him well in this critical role in cabinet.
"He has got the job on his experience advocating for dairyfarmers through SADA so he understands the need to consult and work closely with those advocating for the industry," he said.
Mr Keynes said there were a number of pieces of legislation that the former Minister had been working hard on, including the long-awaited Pastoral Act review and the new Biosecurity Act, which he hoped Mr Basham would "pick up quickly" and "bring fresh eyes" to.
Grain Producers SA chief executive officer Caroline Rhodes also congratulated Mr Basham, saying they had already been in contact to arrange an incoming briefing.
"Mr Basham's appointment comes at a critical time for GPSA, with the launch of the SA Grain Industry Blueprint in August, and in advance of the anticipated lifting of the GM moratorium across mainland SA," she said.
"We believe his industry knowledge, rural background and leadership in state and national farm bodies prior to entering Parliament, will serve him well in this critical role in cabinet. We really look forward to working with him."
Ms Rhodes was confident GPSA would remain in a strong position to influence change in the interests of the state's graingrowers.
Two other first-term MPs have joined the new-look cabinet with Member for Morphett Stephen Patterson the new Trade and Investment Minister and Vincent Tarzia the new Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services.
Corey Wingard has added Transport and Infrastructure to his Recreation, Sport and Racing portfolio.
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