The three Upper Spencer Gulf Cities have welcomed the recent policy announcement by the SA Liberals to introduce a ‘Royalties for Regions’ program, but caution the focus needs to be on new, strategic infrastructure and not just used to fund the backlog of road maintenance.
Chair of Spencer Gulf Cities Association and Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson explained that experience from other states shows that Royalties for Regions should be used to boost funding for new regional initiatives that will have a catalytic impact and unlock additional investment in regional infrastructure, services and facilities, over and above existing State Government department core programs and infrastructure.
“One of the key lessons learned from Royalties for Regions in both Western Australia and Queensland is to make sure that Government doesn’t start shifting funding for its core responsibilities into this program”, said Mayor Johnson. “Just like providing public education and country hospitals, road maintenance is a core function of Government. We would be very disappointed if the opportunity to push forward with some really strategic and visionary economic and social infrastructure through a Royalties for Regions program was squandered.”
Mr Johnson said there is strong support for a Royalties for Regions program right across regional South Australia, with Councils and community leaders from the Upper Spencer Gulf, Mid North,
Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas, the South East, Riverland and Murraylands, Fleurieu and Hills Regions all on board. “Last year mining royalty revenue to the SA Government was worth about $221 million. If a ‘Royalties for Regions’ program was in place that quarantined even 25% of this revenue for country communities, it would have meant a direct investment of $55 million to regional SA last year – a trebling of the state’s current $15 million Regional Development Fund.”
“Based on the SA Government’s own budget figures, mining royalties are estimated to grow to about $278 million by 2019/20, potentially returning just under $70 million per annum to country communities.”
“A stronger funding commitment from Government for new, catalytic regional economic and social infrastructure demonstrates confidence in our regions to help leverage certainty and investment by the private sector.”
Mayor Sam Johnson, Port Augusta Council – Mob: 0423 291 127
Mayor Lyn Breuer, Whyalla Council – Mob: 0419 806 415
Mayor John Rohde, Port Pirie Regional Council – Mob: 0417 080 961