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Calls for extra cash, infrastructure planning beyond capital city
12 July 2012


REGIONAL South Australia is worth at least $16.6 billion a year to the state's economy but is not being included in planning, a major new report shows.

The report, prepared by the SA Centre for Economic Studies for the Local Government Association of SA, highlights the economic contribution of the regions with a view to improving co-operation with state and federal governments.

It says that South Australia's economic progress, its social cohesion and the development of its natural resources depend entirely on the relationship with the regions.

The document shows that regional SA comprises 98.7 per cent of the state's land mass, hosts 30 per cent of the population, contributes 51.4 per cent of exports and has a low unemployment rate.

It highlights the ability of the regions to help propel SA into a new economic age with their fast-growing mining, agricultural and food sectors and large tourism industry and identifies a long list of opportunities.

The report, being released at the 2012 Regional Development South Australia Conference in the Barossa Valley today, shows the exciting growth includes renewable energy, opportunities in retirement living, rapid population expansion and various other factors.

It also underlines a population boom at Roseworthy, up by 60,000 people in the next 30 years, Mt Barker growing by 4.3 per cent a year in the next decade, an extra 25,000 people in the Yorke and Mid North by 2036 and a possible doubling of Murray Bridge's population within 20 years.

Local Government Association of SA president Kym McHugh said there was a feeling in the bush that the State Government did not take the regions seriously.

Mr McHugh said the LGA wanted to develop a statewide discussion paper with Regional Development Australia and the councils to get everyone working together.

"In the regions, the people think the Government believes the state economy is from Noarlunga to Gepps Cross because that's where the seats are and where they have to win government, but that philosophy doesn't help the state," Mr McHugh said.

The report lists infrastructure as a crucial challenge with the need for the development of water, road, rail and energy infrastructure, while problems include insufficient homes, a need for expanded and improved health care facilities and hospitals, more attractions and increased public transport.

SA Centre for Economic Studies executive director Associate Professor Michael O'Neil said: "For too long ... we've been too Adelaide-centric and failed to appreciate the overall economic performance of the agricultural sector and its importance to the state economy."

Regional Development Minister Gail Gago said yesterday that she wanted to see a vibrant, robust and sustainable food industry, and reinvigorated and strengthened regional communities.

"To achieve this we need to work together," she said.

Click here to visit a link to the article on Adelaide Now

Calls for Cash, Kym McHugh and Tom McHugh