Where is the representation for rural areas?

City versus Country. Adelaide versus the rest of South Australia. Capital cities versus the rest of Australia. Why is it so hard to have fair, equitable representation for rural populations?

These questions and more are being discussed at both local council and regional, (Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association; South Australian Regional Organisations of Councils), levels over recent months.

The Regional Development Australia, Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula website, proudly states: " Eyre Peninsula is one of South Australia’s most productive regions generating over $4 billion in revenue annually. The region is highly export oriented with product valued at $4.144 billion being exported to domestic and overseas markets in 2014.

"Why do we have to fight so hard for recognition? I believe the progressive centralisation of not only government services and departments, but also private and commercial businesses to metropolitan centre’s has damaged our regions and in turn our state.

As an example, why can't Country Health, Country Arts and Regions SA be based in the country? Our regional cities and towns offer an affordable, safe and relaxed lifestyle with a strong sense of community.

Why not be based here? Personally, I would love to see an independent assessment made for comparative costing for maintaining a King William Street headquarters compared to a regional based building, with appropriate staff. And in that comparison recognition needs to be given to the overall health and improvement for representation for the people. Surely that is what matters most?

On the back of resolutions put forward by our Council and supported at EPLGA level, the Local Government Association will be holding a forum on "growing our regions", with a focus on decentralisation and how we can address problems with politics and our regions.

Although there will be strong advocacy for regional cities and centre's put forward, I also intend to make sure the voice of rural towns and communities are heard. We are strong and faithful contributors to our state and our nation.

I believe it is time we received recognition and commensurate actions to fairly recognise this.

Dean Johnson

Kimba District Council mayor

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