Murray Bridge is the most desirable destination in the country for Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) staff, the agency's head says as he prepares to open an office here.
The authority aims to open an office in the rural city before Christmas as part of a push towards decentralisation.
Up to a dozen MDBA staff will be based in Murray Bridge by mid-2020: a mix of locals and Canberra imports.
A total of about 76 jobs will be moved from the nation's capital to centres across the basin over a two-year period.
When staff were asked where they would like to go, MDBA chief executive officer Phillip Glyde said during a visit on Friday, Murray Bridge was a popular answer.
Two staff already work out of the National Resources SA office on Mannum Road.
The authority is in the final stages of negotiating a lease for its own premises.
The idea of pulling up stumps was "quite a challenge" to the authority's Canberra-based staff, many of whom had their partners' careers and children's schooling to think of, Mr Glyde said.
Ideally some would move and other jobs would be filled by locals.
"Some of the naysayers in Canberra would say 'there's no way to recruit the people with the capabilities you need (in the regions)', but that hasn't been the case," Mr Glyde said.
"People with connections to the community ... they're the people we were ignoring previously, when we were recruiting people to Canberra."
Besides, technology now enabled almost anyone to work anywhere, he said.
However, it was too early to say whether the MDBA's decentralisation could serve as a model for other government agencies in future, Mr Glyde said - "we're hastening slowly".
The federal government proposed the push as a way of strengthening the authority's ties to basin communities.
“Murray Bridge is a great town, and I’m looking forward to having a larger #MDBA team here in the future” MDBA Chief Executive Phillip Glyde said today. Phillip is with Brent Williams – GM of Compliance in #MurrayBridge SA today meeting some local organisations. #MurrayDarlingpic.twitter.com/c9JShJunG6— MD Basin Authority (@MD_Basin_Auth) November 15, 2019