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Marshall Liberal Government's Costs Threaten Growth in Spencer Gulf City Region

Tags: Tony Piccolo MP / Shadow Ministry

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  • By Light Electoral Office
  • Aug 08, 2019
Marshall Liberal Government's Costs Threaten Growth in Spencer Gulf City Region

 

Left to Right: John Banks, CEO (Port Augusta City Council), Mayor Brett Benbow (Port Augusta City Council), Chris Cowley, CEO (Whyalla City Council), Mayor Clare McLaughlin (Whyalla City Council), Wendy Campana, Anita Crisp, CEO (Spencer Gulf Cities LGA), Mayor Leon Stephens (Port Pirie District Council), Chair (Spencer Gulf Cities LGA), Mr Tony Piccolo MP, Shadow Minister for Planning and Local Government.

 
The promise of growth in the Spencer Gulf City region could be threatened if the
Marshall Liberal Government does not reduce some of the cost burdens passed
onto councils.

 

Meeting with council mayors and chief executives from Port Augusta, Port Pirie and
Whyalla - at the Spencer Gulf Cities regional forum on Tuesday, 6 August - the
Shadow Minister for Local Government, Mr Tony Piccolo MP, heard these concerns
first hand.

 

“What I heard from council mayors was an excitement about the investments
proposed in these areas and the growth and prosperity these investments would
bring. But what was also evident, was a healthy realism about the challenges
confronting this growth potential,” Mr Piccolo said.

 

“Specifically, councils are concerned about some of the costs passed onto them
from the Marshall Liberal Government’s increases in taxes, fees and charges.
“In the recent State Budget, we saw a whopping 40% hike in the bin tax (charged
on waste sent to landfill), and councils are subjected to the administrative and
financial burden the collection of the Natural Resources Management Levy has on
them.”

 

Council chief executives explained that regional councils are limited in their
capacity to raise revenue separate to rates, meaning that increased State
Government charges result in service cuts.

 

Service cuts have included the closure of a special needs school in Port Augusta
and the privatisation of an aged care facility.

 

Mr Piccolo also heard from councils that services need to be maintained to attract
new residents in growth industries.

 

“In regional areas I know that councils work very hard to maintain services, and
the quality of life of their residents, needed to attract the high-skilled workers and
professionals they need to remain vibrant communities,” Mr Piccolo said.

 

“These services include those needed for a balanced family life: health, education,
sporting and aged care services etc.

 

“These much-needed services are threatened when costs are transferred from the
State Government to councils.”

 

 

Spencer Gulf Cities councils also expressed their concerns about the 75% rate
rebate applicable to community housing stock transferred from the SA Housing
Authority, the non-rating of renewable energy assets, the labour force and
accommodation requirements of big investment projects, and the finances required
to maintain their marine infrastructure.

 

Mr Piccolo encouraged councils to make their views heard regarding the rate
rebates for community housing through the LGA, so that a mutually beneficial
solution could be pursued through talks with the community housing sector.

 

Mr Piccolo also advocated for research into the issues surrounding rate exemptions
for renewable energy assets, he committed to requesting information from the
Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure regarding the maintenance
of marine infrastructure, and called for the Federal Government to desist from its
slow processing of VISA applications for resident skilled migrants, keen to make
Australia their permanent home.

 

Planning issues were also discussed, and Mr Piccolo took the opportunity to inform
councils of the Labor Party’s proposals to open up the State Commission
Assessment Panel’s (SCAP’s) meetings and deliberations.

 

“It is important that regional councils and their communities remain highly
engaged in the planning processes for major projects in their areas,” Mr Piccolo
said.

 

“The reforms I have proposed to SCAP meeting procedures, the access to
supporting documentation and deliberations – with protections for commercial-inconfidence
considerations – will ensure that this is the case.”

 

 

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