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Murraylands and Riverland Councils Are Doing It Tough

Tags: Local Infrastructure / Local Business / Shadow Ministry


  • By Light Electoral Office
  • Feb 20, 2020
Murraylands and Riverland Councils Are Doing It Tough


Murraylands and Riverland Councils have expressed their concerns about the timing of the implementation of the Marshall Government’s Planning and Design Code, which will replace the planning rules (currently contained in council development plans) in the region from April this year. 

Meeting in Karoonda last Friday for their regular quarterly meeting, councils expressed their concerns in discussions with the Shadow Minister for Planning and Local Government, Tony Piccolo MP.


Mr Piccolo said that many councils in the region are facing a range of challenges including drought conditions, and just don’t have the resources to meet the State Government’s artificially imposed deadline.


“The complexity of the system will require many smaller councils to contract development assessment work to private consultants, at great expense to councils,” Mr Piccolo said.


“We need to ensure the transition to the new planning system is done right, not fast for political purposes, as bad development decisions last longer than a lifetime.”


At the meeting, councils also discussed their strategic planning process, with many expressing the view that lofty and unrealistic dreams are no substitute for sensible plans.


The process will develop a Strategic Plan that covers the period: 2020-2025.
Commenting on the workshop development of the Strategic Plan, Mr Piccolo was impressed by the focus of council mayors.


“I’m always impressed by the frank nature in which regional councils conduct their business,” Mr Piccolo said.


“While the mayors see value in a strategic vision, they want it to be concise, easily understood, and genuinely shared throughout the region.


“But overriding everything, they want their Strategic Plan to feature action items which are achievable and affordable over the 5-year timeframe.”


Mr Piccolo said unsurprisingly the health and viability of the River Murray was top of the list of issues to be addressed, followed by the challenges confronting dryland farming, road maintenance funding, the challenges of ensuring adequate health services, and the ongoing challenge of promoting and invigorating young entrepreneurship and business opportunities in the region.
The meeting also revealed that Murraylands and Riverland councils believe their regional advocacy to State and Federal governments needs to be sharper and better coordinated.


Mr Piccolo observed that this followed several recent and ongoing policy battles with State and Federal governments which have not gone the regions’ way.


“The region is not only under threat from the lobbying power of eastern state irrigators withholding water entitlements,” Mr Piccolo said.


“Murraylands and Riverland councils are also under pressure from the poor policy management of the Marshall Liberal Government.
“Despite the region having suffered through a long, costly drought, the Marshall


Government believes this is a good time to re-introduce its failed rate capping policy.


“Not only will this policy provide cover for large metropolitan councils to raise their rates by greater amounts than they have in recent years, it will disproportionately harm regional councils which have fewer revenue streams than their metropolitan counterparts.”


Mr Piccolo also observed council mayors’ disappointment at the Marshall Liberal Government’s dumping of its signature road, rail and air freight policy, Globelink, and their ongoing refusal to take over the collection of the Natural Resources Management Levy from councils.


“Policies which would have provided an economic boost to the region have been dumped without contrition,” Mr Piccolo said.


“While poor policies which increase councils’ cost of doing business, have been maintained.”


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