A clear message is being sent by the Local Government Association to both major parties vying for government at the State Election in March.
Launched in Port Pirie last Thursday, the LGA’s regional development platform is aimed at potential governing parties with its purpose based around the recognition of South Australia’s regions.
The LGA’s acting president, and City of Onkaparinga mayor, Lorraine Rosenberg spoke on behalf of the association and used the launch to clearly layout their wishes from both potential governing parties.
Mayor Rosenberg said regions play a vital role in the economic prosperity of South Australia, contributing $20 billion annually to the state’s economy.
“Over 50 per cent of South Australian exports come from regional South Australia,” she said.
With that being the case, Mayor Rosenberg highlighted the fact that just 29 per cent of the state’s labour force lived in regional South Australia, and only 30 per cent of the population comes from the regions.
“A newly elected State Government must give proper recognition of the important role regions play in the economic sustainability of the state,” Mayor Rosenberg said.
On the role of councils in this instance, she said councils are an “integral part” of regional life, and that often, they are the “only form of government” with a presence in regional communities.
The association’s strategy document, entitled “Working Together”, details 13 key areas in which they have sought commitments from a prospective incoming government – they include, planning, waste management, stormwater, community wastewater management schemes, regional development, state and local government relations, local government revenue, climate change, sport and recreation, infrastructure funding, roads infrastructure, disaster resilience and emergency management, and natural resource management.
“In the lead up to March 2014 there are a number of matters that are of critical importance to local government in South Australia, and political parties and voters alike need to know what and how important these are,” Mayor Rosenberg said.
Acting as a spokesperson for the Alliance of South Australian Regional Councils Wakefield Regional Council mayor James Maitland detailed an election platform of three core issues for regional and rural South Australia, titled “Making Regions Matter”.
The commitments asked for include growing regional centres, strengthening regional investment and reconnecting with regional communities.
Mayor Rosenberg said the next state government has a “duty of care” to work with local government to help “foster and maintain regional development”.
Port Pirie Regional Council mayor Brenton Vanstone took the podium briefly to contribute to the day’s proceedings.
“South Australia is at an important juncture,” he said.
“Our economic driver is now the regions. “(State) government needs to act outside of electoral cycles.
“Private investment cannot fund all infrastructure projects.”
Mayor Rosenberg said the “best economic results” are achieved when local communities are “assisted” by the three spheres of government.
“The South Australian Centre for Economic Studies research shows us that good economic development flows from assisting local people to make the best use of social, economic and environmental resources in the local area,” she said.
“The SACES research demonstrates that ‘top down’ regional development doesn’t work and that local government and regional bodies are ideally placed to design and implement ‘bottom up’ development strategies and to facilitate ‘place based solutions.
“However, some of the most important measure for improving economic development are not under the direct control of councils.
Schools and healthcare facilities are not the province of local government, but they are essential community services.
“For this reason agreements and partnerships between the three spheres of government are vital for community health and economic wellbeing.”
With the clear message being regional development commitments from the next state government, the LGA will continue to lobby throughout the campaign to achieve the best for regional communities.
“Only if we work together will better outcomes be possible for the same communities that we both serve,” Mayor Rosenberg said.