Country Press SA Awards

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:26): I rise today to speak about the Country Press SA Awards held in the Adelaide Convention Centre on 23 February this year. The awards were hosted by the Country Press SA President, Mr Ian Osterman from The Courier at Mount Barker, and the MC for the evening was Darren Robinson from The Leader at Angaston.

I was delighted that the then leader of the opposition and now Premier, Steven Marshall, was able to attend the awards, along with a number of other MPs and candidates, including the then Liberal candidate and now member for Finniss, Mr David Basham, and the then ALP candidate for the Legislative Council, Ms Emily Bourke, of course now the Hon. Emily Bourke.

I was delighted that, on the night, life memberships of Country Press SA were awarded to Mr Michael Ellis, the proprietor of the Yorke Peninsula Country Times, and Mr Ben Taylor, proprietor and general manager of the Taylor Group of newspapers based in the Riverland. Both families, the Ellis family and the Taylor family, have had a long association with Country Press SA and have played very strong roles, not only in the country press sector in this state but across the country.

My award for best community profile was judged by Lauren Novak of The Advertiser, and was won by Mr Les Pearson of the Plains Producer, and I quote Lauren Novak:

Pearson's piece on rough footballer, Robbie 'Mad Dog' Muir, was a surprise and a delight. It was good news sense on the part of Pearson to recognise the potential profile in Muir when he visited the news room to introduce himself. The article is well written and balanced and the subject topical, given the current focus on family violence and substance abuse, particularly ice, in country areas.

I congratulate Les Pearson, the editor of the Plains Producer, on winning that award, also Paul Mitchell from The Murray Pioneer in second place and Ian Osterman from The Courier in third. In the major awards on the evening, best newspaper (over 4,000 circulation) was won by the Yorke Peninsula Country Times and second place went to The Border Watch at Mount Gambier. In the under 4,000 circulation section, the winner was the Plains Producer, based at Balaklava, and second was The South Eastern Times, which is centred around Millicent. It was the second time that both those papers actually won the ultimate accolade at those awards, and a great celebration was had by the proprietors and staff of both newspapers, as I understand.

I was saddened to learn, around the time of the election, of the passing of former Country Press SA president, Mr David Wright. He had actually been a judge at the awards. He passed away suddenly on 16 March at the age of just 50. He enjoyed a long career in regional newspapers across South Australia, working in Whyalla, Ceduna, Port Lincoln and also Katherine. His last role was as the managing editor of the Northern Argus in Clare, a newspaper he devoted 18 years to, until he left the industry in 2014 to establish a taxi service in Clare. It was a shock to me—I think I heard about it on election day—to hear of Mr Wright's death. He was certainly sadly mourned by the newspaper and the country newspaper industry in South Australia.

I conclude by congratulating Country Press SA again on a wonderful awards night. I know a number of members here have attended in the past. They do a very professional job of presenting what is a very wideranging and incredible industry in South Australia, which we welcome and enjoy.