Shadow Minister for Planning and Local Government, Housing and Urban Development and Veterans’ Affairs Tony Piccolo said he received useful information about the challenges facing Eyre Peninsula communities on a visit to Wudinna last week.
The Member for Light was in Wudinna to speak to local councillors at the Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association (EPLGA) meeting, as well as with members of the Wudinna RSL sub-branch.
Mr Piccolo said rate capping, problems within local health services, the pending Wudinna TAFE campus closure and dealing with government agencies were discussed.
He said there was “overwhelming opposition” to rate capping throughout Eyre Peninsula, with a desire for “value for money services”.
Eight of 11 Eyre Peninsula councils voted against rate capping, with the remaining three leaving the matter on the table.
“When you combine Labor, the Greens and SA Best votes the rate capping bill will fail,” he said.
“It takes power away from rate payers and communities in determining budgets and issues raised can be better addressed in direct ways.”
Mr Piccolo said health was also a major concern for Eyre Peninsula councils, with some towns struggling to find a permanent doctor.
“They raised health services issues, like that of attracting doctors to towns, with a view that the state government is not doing enough to support,” he said.
“One of the points made was it is not just about attracting a doctor, but the need for other things for families – a partner needs to work, kids need to go to school, so there needs to be services.”
Mr Piccolo said a desire for a better understanding of how regional areas were affected by decision-making in Adelaide came out of the EPLGA meeting.
“Councils are prepared to work with the government and opposition to engage in the reform process, but councils need support because in rural areas they offer a range of services to help the community that metro councils may not, like Streaky Bay putting their hand in with the medical clinic,” he said.
“They are keen to make sure that when government makes a decision in Adelaide they understand the rural impact.”
Wudinna is set to be impacted by the closure of the TAFE campus, which Mr Piccolo said could encourage people in the region to drop out of education given they may have to travel hundreds of kilometres to visit another campus.
However, Mr Piccolo said local councils were happy with the progress of road improvements in the region.
He said Wudinna RSL sub-branch members also spoke about the difficulties they have faced when dealing with government departments.
“They said there was insensitivity, a lack of understanding, to the remoteness and lack of services in Eyre Peninsula when dealing with bureaucracy, and no understanding of how far widespread things are.”