South Australian minister urges council collaboration

21 Apr 15

Councils in South Australia need to continue to work closely together and share resources, the state’s local government minister told Cooking Recipes International.

Geoff Brock, who is also regional development minister in South Australia, said: ‘Councils need to be innovative and look at resource sharing, it’s no different from what’s happening in the UK, but in South Australia, we’re a little bit further advanced.’

He pointed to the councils on the Eyre Peninsula on South Australia’s west coast, which have begun to collaborate and share resource.

‘We’re finding this is the best direction they can go,’ Brock said. ‘Local councils in South Australia are the closest [tier of government] to the people. As a minister, as a member of parliament, the first thing I do is go and talk to the mayor.’

He noted councils across Australia were facing challenges after the federal government’s decision to stop indexing the Financial Assistance Grant, through which local government is partly funded, for the next three years to inflation.

‘That is going to cost local councils in South Australia something like A$60m.’

The federal government’s decision in last year’s Budget to cut supplementary road funding for South Australia will see the state miss out of a further $18m, he added.

Despite these financial challenges, Brock was upbeat. ‘We’ve had an interesting 12 months but my philosophy as minister is to work collaboratively with all the spheres of government, including local and federal,’ he told PF International.

‘If we can do that, we can get on top of all these challenges.’

Brock, a former mayor of the South Australian city of Port Pirie, spoke to PF International as part of a visit to the UK to promote investment opportunities in the state’s rural regions.

Brock said the focus on the growth potential of Australia’s regions, as opposed to its cities, was greater than it had been for years.

‘The capital city [Adelaide in South Australia] is the heart and the heart needs to be fed by its arteries. If the regions are healthy and vibrant and feeding into a heart then everything is healthy.’

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