COUNTRY PRESS AWARDS

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:22): On 22 February, I was very pleased to attend the Country Press SA awards dinner at the Vine Inn Barossa community hotel in Nuriootpa. The welcome was provided by the new president of Country Press SA, Mr Darren Robinson, a fourth-generation member of the Robinson family who worked on The Leader newspaper at Angaston, which actually hosted this annual event. The master of ceremonies for the awards was the new vice-president, Mr Dennis Jackson, of The Border Watch at Mount Gambier.

Having been a trophy sponsor of Country Press SA since 2002, I was delighted to present the Best Community Profile award to the Yorke Peninsula Country Times proprietor, Michael Ellis, on behalf of his journalist, Amie Price. Judge Paul Starick from The Advertiser said of Amie's profile on Karimi Manners:

This is a memorable story about an unusual and interesting person, who has started a thriving food business in a small country town.

The other awards at the presentation night included Best Advertisement (Image/Branding), which went to the Yorke Peninsula Country Times, Best Advertisement (Priced Product) to The Courier in Mount Barker, Best Advertising Feature to The Plains Producer and Best Supplement to The Yorke Peninsula Country Times. The Loxton News and Stephanie Thompson were awarded with the Best News Photograph, while Phil Williams from The Bunyip took out Best Sports Photograph.

Best Front Page went to The Border Watch and the Editorial Writing award was taken out by Raquel Mustillo and Fred Smith from The South Eastern Times. The Murray Pioneer from Renmark took out the Best Headline and Excellence in Journalism also went to The Murray Pioneer and its editor, Mr Paul Mitchell. Best Sports Story was won by Paul Mitchell from The Murray Pioneer. The Young Journalist of the Year Award went to Brooke Littlewood of The South Eastern Times.

We then progressed to the major awards of the evening. The two key categories for newspapers, depending on the size of their circulation: the Best Newspaper Under 4,000 Circulation went to The South Eastern Times at Millicent, and the award for the Best Newspaper Over 4,000 Circulation went to The Border Watch at Mount Gambier.

I was pleased that other members of this place, the Hon. Ms Scriven and the Hon. Ms Bourke, were able to attend the awards night. The Deputy Premier (the Hon. Vickie Chapman) was also there, along with the state members for Hammond, Narungga, Giles, Croydon and Light from another place, as was the federal member for Barker.

I have long had an association with Country Press SA. They represent some fabulous community publications that work very hard to make realistic and positive commentary on and advancement of their local communities. They vary in size greatly and some are weekly newspapers. The Border Watch, of course, is a multiple weekly paper. They represent salt of the earth people who are very proud of their local communities.

I reiterate the fact that the work of Country Press SA as an organisation is to be commended. They have a smaller membership of newspapers now than for most of the time I have been involved, and that is because of the withdrawal, unfortunately, of the Rural Press newspapers. One would hope that in the future the potential sale of those newspapers will mean that they will go into ownership that might bring that large group of papers back into the Country Press SA fold. I know that in New South Wales a similar organisation was decimated by the fact that some 80 per cent of their member papers were owned by Rural Press.