Strategy to highlight SA's regional communities

Blueprint: A new Regional Development Strategy is expected to help grow economies and increase support for people in rural South Australian communities such as Carrieton.
Blueprint: A new Regional Development Strategy is expected to help grow economies and increase support for people in rural South Australian communities such as Carrieton.

Growing economies and increasing support for people in regional communities are just two aspects of a new strategy which is being developed for rural South Australia.

The State Government's Regional Development Strategy (RDS) will focus on issues such as industry, economy, welfare and infrastructure.

Input from stakeholders, communities and individuals is being sought to help build the strategy in various ways - through community forums, online surveys and written submissions.

An independent community panel has been created which will conduct forums and follow procedures to ensure there is sufficient engagement in the RDS developmental process.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the strategy would deliver a government plan for future investment, support and priorities to shape the future of the state's regions over the long term.

"We recognise that South Australia's regions and the communities that live and work in them are crucial for the future prosperity of our state as a whole," Mr Whetstone said.

"We believe this is a necessary step to ensure regional South Australia maintains and grows its economic capability and supports people in their decision to live in regional areas.

"The Marshall Liberal Government understands the importance of Regional South Australia and this strategy will help with continued growth for future generations."

An independent community panel was created by Mr Whetstone and is currently conducting forums and following process to ensure there is sufficient engagement in the development of the RDS.

"This is an important measure to ensure the engagement process effectively canvasses feedback on the questions posed in the discussion paper," Mr Whetstone said.

"A discussion paper has been developed which provides a number of key questions to be considered for the strategy's development.

"Input received will help shape the direction of the strategy."

When taking into account needs of regions across the State there are some varying ranges of requirements in areas such as infrastructure and welfare.

'Different strokes'

Opposition Regional Development spokesperson Eddie Hughes said a strategy where a one-size-fits-all approach would not be beneficial.

Given the differences across regions, it's important that regional development strategies reflect the needs of particular regions," Mr Hughes said.

"Also, strategies do not directly help people in need.

"Regional development strategies are all very well, but they will not reverse cuts imposed upon regional communities."

Mr Hughes said questions should be asked of the State Government during the consultation period on topics such as the outback levy, scrapping of country cabinet meetings, cuts to programs such as female changeroom funding and the promise of reinstating rural road speeds to 110km.

"The increase in the solid waste levy is also going to affect regional councils and ratepayers," Mr Hughes said.

"Nearly all the additional money raised is going to be spent in the city."

Mr Hughes said there was one decision in South Australia's latest budget which was to be acknowledged.

"Given there was a $26 million cut to road funding in the Liberal's first budget, I welcome what appears to be additional spending on regional roads.

"However, much of this money is going to be spent in the distant future," he said.

"I urge every road user, community member or general traveller who uses the Augusta Highway to raise this issue at the Regional Development Strategy meetings.

"I am deeply concerned that the Marshall Liberal Government has failed to provide any funding for the duplication of Augusta Highway - the notorious and deadly stretch of road between Port Augusta and Port Wakefield - which is tragically known as Death's Corridor."

Building better regions

When it comes to the RDS blueprint, Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North chief executive Kelly-Anne Saffin said policy settings could be as powerful as funding contributions.

"Population growth, skilled employees and access to finance for business are the key economic barriers to growth that the top 80 of our business clientele have recently identified in our 2018 industry study," Ms Saffin said.

"A few key suggestions Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North will be proposing to the strategy include working with the Commonwealth Government to identify a special economic zone for high net investors, and VISA applicants, to entice their investment to Regional South Australia.

"We would also like to see incentives which encourage new recruits to the public service to be located, or serve an internship, in regional South Australia."

Your say

An engagement report will be prepared by the advisory panel when the consultation period finishes on Friday, July 26, 2019 at 5pm.

The final strategy is set to be released in 2020.

To take part in the consultation process visit https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/decisions/regional-plan/about