Big start to 2019 for the Eastern Eyre region

HAPPY NEW YEAR: Much is in store for the Eastern Eyre region in 2019.
HAPPY NEW YEAR: Much is in store for the Eastern Eyre region in 2019.

The Eastern Eyre Peninsula region is in for a busy first six months as we head into 2019.

After a year of dry conditions and financial pressure on the community, the federal government stepped up at the end of 2018 and allocated $1 million to the Kimba, Cleve and Franklin Harbour district councils to provide an economic boost to the region as spending dwindles.

The catch? South Australia was added to the program two months after it was announced, but given the same deadline.

If the money is not spent come June 30, it disappears.

It will soon be apparent how stringent the criteria is for projects under this program, with approval due early this month.

Perhaps the most notable of the projects is a joint proposal valued at several hundred thousand dollars that would see 11 sporting and community groups across the Cleve district cleared to undergo maintenance and upgrades they would otherwise struggle to fund.

Should the projects be accepted, the next few months will be a flurry of construction which could benefit the community for years to come.

However should the poor conditions continue, all eyes will be on the government to continue to provide support that extends outside Canberra’s timezone.

This year will see the current government face a major challenge in the federal election after a turbulent period in politics.

In the local seat of Grey, Centre Alliance candidate and Port Lincoln councillor Andrea Broadfoot will challenge incumbent Rowan Ramsey, after causing a swing away from his Liberal Party of over 10 per cent in 2016.

It is likely the debate around the site for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility will heat up again as the election draws near, with legal proceedings regarding the Kimba community ballot set for late this month.

Closer to home, the state Liberal government has had nearly a year to take stock, and the Eyre Peninsula will be watching them closely as they search for a solution to the region’s health crisis.

A change in country health governance is underway, with decentralised Local Health Networks to be fully operational by July.

However the real test of the government’s commitment to rural health will be whether permanent doctors return to the towns of Cowell and Kimba in 2019.