Key leaders join Premier's council to protect state industries, wine and farming

Wine areas such as the Clare and Barossa Valleys, McLaren Vale and the Limestone Coast will share in a new voice on a council designed to safeguard South Australian industries threatened by coronavirus.

Industry leaders in farming, business, property, retail, construction and housing, tourism, food and hospitality make up the 14-member council headed by the Premier.

The first meeting was on Thursday.

On board are chief executives, former Premier Rob Kerin, of Primary Producers SA, and the Wine Industry Association's Brian Smedley.

Both say the intention is to help identify how the newly-unveiled $650 million state stimulus funding can be best used to boost activity and create solutions.

They said the council would help businesses and organisations affected by disasters and ensure the economy recovered as soon as possible with jobs being revived.

Mr Kerin said the looming workforce shortages, particularly in horticulture, needed to be looked at.

He spoke of affected fresh food suppliers as a result of the recent hotel and restaurant industry closures.

In the past month the chief executive has been active in the awake of the virus with regards to border restrictions, overseeing the protection of the supply of food production and freight.

But he said issues raised by producers during the pandemic had been wide and varied.

"Primary production requires many inputs, and we must maintain access to those inputs such as fertiliser, chemicals, feed supplements, animal medicines and packaging," he added.

Similarly, wine industry advocate Brian Smedley said there was no doubt the impact from COVID19 was significant considering day-to-day operations of a wine business.

"With vintage underway, there is a need to ensure we can finish vintage to ensure we have 2020 wines to promote and sell around the world," he said.

He focussed on the state's second package designed to rescue and recover the state.

He spoke of many wine businesses that now have their liquor licensing fees in 2020-21 waived plus a six-month payroll tax break if payrolls are up to $4 million yearly.

While the key leaders agreed no one could foresee the speed of the impact of the virus, both acknowledged how many country businesses still work to recover from state disasters - bushfires and the drought.

"COVID19 will pass and we need to be ensuring our businesses have a plan to see them through so we can build a stronger business in the future," Mr Smedley said.

Both urge every affected business seek what may be available to them from state and federal packages and to learn how to access support.

"Likewise, those unfortunate to lose jobs, please do not be shy about registering for the federal government's generous boost to benefits, and state-based supplements," Mr Kerin added.

Anyone with issues or ideas on Response and Recovery are encouraged to contact their local Regional Development Australia team, who will collate and pass on regional issues, by visiting www.rda.gov.au.