In addition to adding 12 gigalitres of water to the Northern Adelaide Plains, the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme, with a combined $155.6m in funds contributed from the State and Federal Governments, will create 3700 jobs and add a projected $500m per year to the state’s economy.
As operations at Holden’s Elizabeth plant wind down, the infrastructure project, which Penney says will offer 150 jobs in the construction phase, is welcome news to the people of Northern Adelaide.
The benefits once the project is completed, Penney says, will be far-reaching.
“We’ve been proponents of the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme for the last four or five years or so, and it falls into a bigger picture,” Penney says.
“If you consider the urban growth boundary laws that were passed last year, the Northern Connector South Road Upgrade, I believe it has paved a clear path to get really high value crops to overseas markets, so unlocking that water and putting it up in those fertile Northern Adelaide plains, is absolutely a brilliant idea.
“Some water can be unlocked for the Barossa, and we know premium food and wine is one of South Australia’s economic pillars, one of the Premier’s economic pillars, so by ramping that up, by being able to supply consistent water that is completely independent of how much rain we get, or how full the Murray River is will provide certainty, but in theory, higher quality water at the same time.”
Business SA have long been proponents of South Australia developing its export mentality, with the group unveiling their Export Ready Program in response to last year’s State Budget, with the aim of helping businesses find a way into international markets.
“It’s taking businesses that could be new to export, or they’ve been exporting for a while but really want to maximise their success, and turbo charging that, taking them through the fundamentals – logistics, international market research and partner selection, IP protection, these sorts of areas, so that when they come out of the program at the other end, they’re set up for success,” Penney says.
“That’s our view of NAIS; it’s an opportunity to really get high value exportable goods. If we consider the free trade agreement that has been signed in the last few years with China, Japan and Korea… Everything is just lining up to unlock the potential that NAIS will build.
“South Australia has a clean and green image, we’re the only non-GMO mainland state, we’ve got Asia on our doorstep… Now’s the time to start laying down the foundations and the bedrock to further capitalise on Australia being the food bowl for Asia, particularly South East Asia.”