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Mayor and CEO promote our region

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PROMOTING OUR REGION: Port Pirie Deputy Mayor Alan Zubrinich, Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin, Port Augusta Mayor Brett Benbow, Port Pirie Mayor Leon Stephens, Shadow Regional Development Minister Stephen Jones and Whyalla Council CEO Chris Cowley in Canberra last week.

Whyalla and the Eyre Peninsula were showcased on the national stage during last week’s visit to Canberra by Mayor Clare McLaughlin and Council CEO Chris Cowley.

Mayor McLaughlin and Mr Cowley were attending the Regions Rising National Summit hosted by the Regional Australia Institute in Canberra. The summit included presentations from the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Michael McCormack, Minister for Regions and Decentralisation the Hon. Bridget McKenzie, Shadow Regional Development Minister Stephen Jones and Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese along with many industry experts and academics.

As part of a Spencer Gulf Cities delegation Mayor McLaughlin and Mr Cowley spent a full day, before the summit, in meetings with several Senators, Members of Parliament and leading Opposition figures to push the case for Whyalla and the region with the Spencer Gulf Cities’ five-point Federal Election Strategy. This included a meeting with incumbent Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey.

Mayor McLaughlin said the meetings and summit were a golden chance for Whyalla and the region to be noticed by influential people, on both sides of the major-party political landscape, in the lead-up to the Federal Election.

“We were able to put Whyalla and the region’s issues and requirements in front of people who may be running this country soon or will continue to run the country after the election,” Mayor McLaughlin said.

“The Spencer Gulf Cities five-point Federal Election Strategy was a key platform for many of our talks and we made sure Whyalla was front and centre in the discussions.

“We obviously struck a chord with Stephen Jones who referred to his meeting with the Spencer Gulf Cities delegation during his presentation at the summit.

 “We are on the cusp of an amazing economic and social transition for our region, but we are not over the line yet and we cannot do it alone.

“It will take a strong partnership across all levels of government and a strong voice for our region in the next parliament.”

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AT THE BIG HOUSE: Port Pirie Deputy Mayor Alan Zubrinich, Whyalla Council CEO Chris Cowley, Port Pirie Mayor Leon Stephens, Port Augusta Mayor Brett Benbow and Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin in Canberra last week to promote the Upper Spencer Gulf election priorities.

The summit tackled a range of issues facing Regional Australia including the lack of skilled workforce in both the private sector and public service roles such as health and medical professionals; disparity in higher education rates; disconnect between central policy makers and the regional communities their decisions impact on and the need for a more tailored approach to improving liveability and amenity of regional centres.

Spencer Gulf Cities Chair, Port Pirie Mayor Leon Stephens said the summit highlighted the myths that are widely perpetuated in the capital cities, including that there are ‘no jobs in the country’.

“As Shadow Minister for Regions, Stephen Jones pointed out, regional Australia doesn’t have a jobs crisis, we actually have a skills crisis,” Mayor Stephens said.

Mayor Stephens said one of the most exciting initiatives coming out of the summit’s workshop sessions was the concept of a national population target of 50% of people to live outside the capital cities.

“It would force Governments to be pro-active about growing our regions and to have the conversation about what this would look like, which areas are defined as regional and importantly, how to achieve this target,” Mayor Stephens said.

The Spencer Gulf Cities Federal Election Strategy calls for:

1. A skilled migration and decentralisation programme tailored to meet the specific needs of the Upper Spencer Gulf.

2. Investment into strategic port, rail, air and road infrastructure to secure the long term economic transition of the Upper Spencer Gulf

3. Additional Commonwealth supported university places and operational funding for the Upper Spencer Gulf Regional Study Hub to enable students to stay, study and work locally.

4. A strong, credible and evidence-based national energy policy to provide stability and certainty for investment in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

5. Coordinated and collaborative investment into civic initiatives in Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Pirie to foster well-planned city growth and liveability.

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