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  • Jason Regan

"Basher" Basham pounds the keyboard

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

South Australian Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham has been a busy man.

You could argue that Minister Basham has been the state government "Minister of the Month", should such an award exist.

There's no doubt his office has been press release happy over the past fortnight. Mr Basham's media team have "bashed" out 10 separate press releases over the past 14 days. That's got to be some sort of record!

In those releases, Minister Basham has commented on several topics including increased fruit fly regulations for the Riverland, coastal protection projects, new national park details, horticulture issues and he's even found time to promote the Ag Town of the Year awards.

Ironically, it was the 2020 edition of the latter in which I first had the opportunity to meet Minister Basham.

On a wet, wintery afternoon the newly minted Primary Industries Minister made his way to Kapunda to launch last years Ag Town of the Year awards.

He was among friends that day. Local MP and fellow Minister Dan Van Holst Pellekaan was in attendance alongside Light Regional Council Mayor Bill O'Brien.

Minister Basham was the beneficiary of others' misfortune - the country MP allowances scandal that claimed two Ministers (Stephan Knoll and Tim Whetstone). Lower house MP Adrian Pederick also resigned from his position as whip over the saga and Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis moved to the crossbench and is still fighting to clear his name against any wrongdoing.

I spoke with David quietly off the side during his Kapunda visit about his new role and how he was finding it. He mentioned his gratitude at the way former Minister Whetstone had handled the situation and how much he had leaned on him, and other departmental staff, for advice in certain areas he wasn't previously familiar with. He has got himself up to speed in these areas quickly.

It's fair to say Minister Basham's home electorate of Finniss isn't your typical country electorate. Love the Fleurieu Milk from down that way, and the coastal areas around Victor Harbour and Goolwa have great recreational fishing. But, there aren't too many professional fishermen in those waters nor broadacre farmers plying their trade near Goyder's line. Plenty of sheep and livestock also call Finniss home but there aren't many wild dogs threatening their lives.

Fast forward a little over 12 months and David Basham is now a Minister with his house in order.

David's penchant for hard work and genuine consultation has been established and is refreshing. What I especially enjoy about Minister Basham is his no-nonsense approach to the job. If he doesn't know the answer to a question, he says as much and commits to finding out the answer. AND he actually follows through on that commitment. That is a rare quality in today's "media managed to within an inch of their life" political sphere.

Two of Minister Basham's press releases of the past fortnight have caught my eye.

Firstly, Minister Basham informed us that more than 20,000 foxes will be killed under a new fox bounty scheme.

The $220,000 program will provide a $10 payment made for each fox destroyed across South Australia to help cull the feral pest. Foxes are known to be one of the most adept predators at picking off newborn lambs and calves and cost the livestock industry millions of dollars every year.

Minister Basham stated fox bounty programs have successful interstate and would work well with the ongoing baiting program. Our very own Flow News 24 guru Rikki Lambert has been telling anyone who will listen around the office that this was his idea. Rikki claims to have put this suggestion to David earlier this year. Minister Basham's reply was along the lines of "If the industry wants it, I'll look into it". Well apparently they did want it and now it's in place. Perhaps Rikki should consider a tilt at politics! (Again).

The second of Basham's press releases that caught my eye was his announcement regarding a new way of controlling rabbits. Apparently, blowing up their warrens is the way to go.

Now, I'm just a big kid at heart and any government policy that includes the peaceful use of explosives has my full support. Who says agriculture can't be fun?

The Government has purchased a Warren Blasting Unit which is used to destroy rabbit warrens in areas that are inaccessible to the normal process of ripping them open.

Minister David Basham visited a farm at Hay Flat to see the device in action.

Now, I understand to some of you this might seem like an extreme measure. But, rabbits are nasty little anti-agriculture critters. Rabbits are regarded as agriculture’s most costly pest, estimated to impact agricultural production by $200 million a year and threaten more than 300 plant and animal species.

So..... let's blow up their homes! Colour me tickled pink. Minister Basham, this plan is a dead set winner.

Minister Basham seems to be bringing the fun back to agriculture.

Seriously though, David is growing into the role exceptionally well. He's a hard worker, genuinely listens when people speak to him and has been more than willing to think outside the box.

Hopefully, David's refreshing approach to his ministership will rub off on a few of his colleagues.

Below: A recent interview between Jason Regan and the SA Primary Industries Minister David Basham MP

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