We're 'left out' of decisions

A centralisation push for decades has caused country residents to feel left out of decisions, according to a regional fact-finding mission.

As part of the state's Regional Development Strategy, more than 100 sessions were held at 15 locations around the state, along with submissions received through the YourSAy website, after the release of a discussion paper. Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said the strategy would "formalise" the government's commitment to the regions.

"This strategy will be the vehicle to create long-lasting frameworks for regional investment and better coordination," he said.

He said that in many ways the report confirmed suspicions that the regions had been neglected and were facing some "challenging population trends and demographics".

"But there are also distinct competitive advantages that our regions possess and we aim to support the communities, which are the lifeblood of our regions, in their choice to work and live in the country while supporting new growth and innovation," he said.

Advisory Panel chair Mark Sutton, who is also chair of Regional Development Australia Far North, said that throughout the engagement sessions there was evidence of "some positives and some opportunities".

He said the panel had taken "license" to include "success stories" they had found in consultation for the report.

"There are some really good ideas out there we can use as case studies," he said.

These included the Upper North Farming Systems which he praised for "working in a spirit of collaboration ... so that everyone benefits to progress farming in the region".

"The regions are vibrant and resilient," he said.

"They know opportunity exists, they just need help. There hasn't been a lot of love for regions in the past decade or so ... the word we heard a lot was things have been 'rudderless' for some time.

"During the years we have seen centralisation of services in Adelaide."

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