Map en route to Marshall

BUDGET CONCERN: Wattle Range councillors Dale Price, Dennis Muhovics, Sharon Cox and Kevin McGrath will send a map to Premier Steven Marshall of the district following a lack of expenditure in the region in the recently released State Budget.

By Raquel Mustillo

WATTLE Range Council will send Premier Steven Marshall a map of the district requesting the location and expenditure of projects that have been funded as part of the 2021/22 State Budget.

Veteran councillor Dale Price moved a multi-part motion at Tuesday night’s council meeting after concerns no new funding had been allocated to any projects in the council area.

The Sorby Adams ward representative floated a move to write to Mr Marshall with a copy to all members of the South Australian parliament asking him to identify what projects were funding in this year’s budget allocations within the Wattle Range Council area.

If no projects received funding, council will ask Mr Marshall to “justify the inequity to the people of the Wattle Range Council and Limestone Coast generally”.

Cr Price said although council had been successful in receiving grant funding, the recently released budget did not appear to include any direct spend on new projects or upgrades in the Wattle Range district.

“There is some funding, what I suspect is it didn’t come through the budget – it dribbles through buckets,” he said.

“Our health facilities have been struggling for funding, it’s not just road funding, it’s about supporting the whole of community through some investment and prioritising regional South Australia, at least with some degree with equity compared to metropolitan Adelaide.”

Cr Price questioned whether the lack of funding in the budget was due to Member for MacKillop Nick McBride crossing the floor to take a stand against his party.

“I wonder whether this is a slap for our local member who I actually quite admire – who has stood up to represent the electorate of this area and vote against his own party,” Cr Price said.

“I wonder if this is a smackdown for him to toe the line on parliamentary votes – I commend him for putting us first.”

Cr John Drew supported the motion and raised concerns over the government’s proposed $700m Riverbank Arena.

“I think when government’s want to create harmony and keep people quiet, they build stadiums,” he said.

“I fear that is what’s happening.

“There’s a huge amount of money being spent centrally while the country areas – particularly our area, which accounts for a lot of the wealth in the area because of its primary production – has received little.”

Cr Peter Dunnicliff urged elected members to be “careful about how we word this”, recognising the recent funding windfalls including $200,000 towards councils’ rail trail.

However, he agreed with Cr Drew’s sentiments about the inequitable spend in the regions compared to Adelaide.

“When people ask me about the State Government spending millions of dollars in Adelaide and not spending any money here, my advice to them is to start voting for the other party and make this a swing seat,” Cr Dunnicliff said.

“Then we will start getting money.”

Elected members also supported a move to write to Infrastructure and Transport Minister Corey Wingard seeking funding for the upgrade of Mile Hill Road, Kangaroo Flat Road and the Overland Track, as well as repairs to be undertaken to the Princes Highway bitumen surface between Millicent and Mount Gambier.

Another motion from the floor was supported to ask Mr Wingard to visit the region and drive along the aforementioned roads.