Call for support for Upper Spencer Gulf

COMMUNITY LEADERS: Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson, right, with Brenton Vanstone, of Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North, and Port Pirie region's Cr Kendall Jackson.

COMMUNITY LEADERS: Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson, right, with Brenton Vanstone, of Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North, and Port Pirie region's Cr Kendall Jackson.

The Upper Spencer Gulf region needs a boost from the state government, according to Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson.

Mr Johnson said a huge funding apparatus had been set up to help Adelaide’s northern suburbs in the wake of the Holden manufacturing closure, but little had been done to support the gulf’s economy.

He was outlining the activities of the Spencer Gulf Cities group to members of the Port Pirie Regional Council.

Mr Johnson said the northern suburbs had “hundreds of millions of dollars” thrown at it and a government department had been created to be responsible for the area.

“There is no department in Adelaide for us,” he said.

He said the group was still developing a plan with the government.

“We want something we as a region can stand up quite proudly and hold,” he said.

“The reality is we have not had our fair share.”

Almost 2500 jobs have been lost from the gulf region in the past two-and-a-half years –and Mr Johnson wants to help the region bounce back.

Regional Development Minister Geoff Brock responded to the criticism by saying the government had created a department, Regions SA, within Primary Industries and Regions SA, formed a Charter for Stronger Regional Policy and set up the Regional SA Cabinet Committee which he chaired. 

He said there was an $8 million economic package for the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback region, the $10 million Whyalla Small Business Loans Scheme, a $50 million government commitment to support a new owner of the Whyalla steelworks and $101,050 to Regional Development Australia Far North to support 100 young and indigenous people who were employed in the Alinta supply chain.

The government provided more than $1.3 million yearly to three Regional Development Australian branches in the area. “That is more than $69 million that the government has provided to support the very important communities of the upper gulf,” he said.

In other good news for the region, Port Augusta’s Central Oval development will host the SEGRA conference for about 450 delegates from around Australia.

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