Key Strategic Priorities for Coober Pedy

Key Strategic Priorities for Coober Pedy

Background

The State Election is to take place on 15th March 2014 and this presents an opportunity for Council to highlight key issues and priorities that require State Government support and commitment.

The Coober Pedy Council discussed and formalised a list of key priorities at a Special Meeting held on the 22nd November 2013.

Council now distributes the list of key priorities to candidates for the Seat of Giles and for the Upper House in the State Election and Council seeks responses to the “outcomes sought” by the 14th January 2013.

Key Strategic Priorities

1.       Remote Areas Electricity Subsidy

Issue:-          Coober Pedy generates it own electricity via a contract with a third party company provider using a bank of diesel generators. This arrangement is also subsided via the current State Government.

However electricity tariffs for commercial entities located within Coober Pedy have risen during the past 3 year period by some 80-120%.

A data comparison betweenAdelaideand local tariffs show that commercial operators in Coober Pedy pay on average 30-110% more for their power usage.

Also residents are currently pegged to an initial price that is no more than 10% dearer than theAdelaidepricing structure. If residents use more power the price aboveAdelaideincreases to close to double.

Many businesses have installed energy efficient lights, air conditioners and refrigeration items however they are still paying for large increases in power. There is also a limitation on the amount of solar power that can be installed within the Coober Pedy power network.

The high power pricing structure does impact heavily on the businesses bottom line, price of consumables sold to the general public (including basic food) and employment opportunities.

Outcome sought:-   A commitment from each candidate  to see the Remote Areas Electricity Subsidy reinstated to thetownship ofCoober Pedy and surrounding  areas were businesses and residents will pay the same tariff pricing structure asAdelaide.

2.       Royalties for Regions

Issue:-          The Western Australian Government has legislated a Royalties for Regions agreement which sees the equivalent of 25 per cent of that States mining and onshore petroleum royalties returned to its regional areas each year for additional investment in projects, infrastructure and community services. Also attached to that agreement is the Western Australian Country Local Government Fund which gives Councils the opportunity to upgrade their infrastructure and improve financial sustainability through improved asset management. Council would like to see the government commit to introducing a scheme similar to the Western Australian model. Consideration would also need to be given to how the funds would be allocated in order to make sure that regions where the mining activity is taking place benefit and are not discriminated against.

Outcome sought:-   A commitment from each candidate to introduce a Royalties for Regions scheme to fund projects, infrastructure and community services outside ofAdelaide similar to the current Western Australian model.

3.       Coober Pedy TAFE Campus

Issue:-          The TAFE campus located within Coober Pedy is a great facility, however it is under utilised is regards to offering courses to local businesses and residents. There is a long list of interested people looking to do courses, however there has been very little action on providing any actual training and courses to the residents. This does little to enhance employment and skill development within this remote and isolated community. The TAFE campus is fast becoming a “white elephant”.

For example the campus used to have classes for people to learn how to cut and polish opal, however that facility was withdrawn some years ago to a campus located within metro Adelaide, which has also ceased doing that course.

Outcome sought:-   A commitment from each candidate to see that TAFE has the necessary resources to offer a wide range of courses within the Coober Pedy campus.

4.       Coober Pedy Airport Runway

Issue:-          The sealed part of the airport runway is 18m wide. REX Airlines operates into Coober Pedy under a narrow width supplement. The narrow width supplement has an expiry date beyond which it is extremely unlikely a further supplement will be issued. If the current seal is not widened to 30m, the airport on the basis of CASA CAAP 235A-1(0), will effectively be limited to aircraft of maximum takeoff weight of 5,700kgs or less. This would preclude the essential RPT and charter services that the community relies on for its sustainability and social cohesion.

Council did apply to the Federal Government Regional Aviation Access Program for funding back in July 2013 in the amount of $342,700 & has an assurance from the State Government Department of Transport to match the grant in the amount of $342,720. No result in regards to the application has been sent to Council to date from the Federal Government.

Outcome sought:-   A commitment from each candidate to achieve an equitable outcome to widen the Coober Pedy airport runway to a width of 30m.

5.       Red Tape

Issue:-          Current management of Council areas is now so complicated by codes, regulations, acts and processes that more and more new staff resources are required to ensure that the right processes are followed in the right way rather than achieving new outcomes for the community.

Outcome sought:-   A commitment from each candidate to provide greater trust and autonomy to Local Councils to manage their communities without being stifled with over regulation by the State Government.

6.       Waste Depot

Issue:-          Council’s current waste depot located on theOodnadatta Road is subject to the conditions of the Antakirinja-Matu-Yankunytjatjara native title claim as it has been identified as a site of significance. This means that Council now needs to close that site and build a new waste transfer centre. The current depot still has a life of some 15 years before its capacity is reached.

It is anticipated that the cost to rehabilitate the current site and build a new depot could be $700,000 to over $1m depending on the EPA license requirements. The native title claim and subsequent negotiations raises the question of why should Council have to pay for a new waste management site when its current operation has another 15 years of usable life left?

Outcome sought:-   A commitment from each candidate to find an equitable solution to the relocation of Councils waste depot including EPA licence requirements and financing costs.

7.       Hospital/Residential Aged Care

Issue:-          Coober Pedy is in need of an expansion to its current Residential Aged Care facility at the hospital. This would entail a proposal to gain an extension/rebuild/refurbishment of the entire hospital to accommodate a new wing of say 10-12 beds with a day room and more homely facilities. Clients cover the areas of Marla, Mintabie, Oodnadatta and the environs of Coober Pedy. This would prevent low care and dementia Clients having to be settle out of town as currently happens. Also there is a need to look at the reopening the on-site nurses home to accommodate the staff from the visiting renal dialysis bus.

Outcome sought:-   A commitment from each candidate to expand the current Residential Aged Care facility at theCooberPedyHospital to accommodate a new area of 10-12 beds.

8.       Speed limits

Issue:-          A recent Transport SA review has recommended the lowing of speed limits on some State and Council roads from 110kms per hour to 100kph as a way to reduce crashes. This will unnecessary penalise regional drivers and add to congestion, road rage and driver fatigue when driving long distances.

Council would like to see an investigation on having the speed limit from say Pimba to theNorthern Territoryborder increased to 130kms per hour.

Council wants the State Government to put more money into maintaining roads rather than reducing speed limits.

Outcome Sought:-   A commitment from each candidate to maintain regional roads to an acceptable standard rather than lowering speed limits and also to investigate whether the speed limit can be increased on the Stuart Highway between Pimba and the Northern Territory border to 130kms per hour.

9.       Regional Infrastructure

Issue:-          Council has identified the need for more funding for regional infrastructure projects. There seems to be a lot happening with major developments within Metro Adelaide and very little action out in the regions in regards to the development of regional infrastructure. Council has ideas including plans for future infrastructure projects within Coober Pedy however it looks as though any Federal assistance has dried up post the September election.

As an example Council would like to develop stage two of its triangle precinct playground redevelopment however Council has been advised that there is little likelihood of obtaining any further assistance from the State Government via the Open Spaces funding stream.

Outcome sought:-   A commitment from each candidate to support equitable funding options for the development of regional infrastructure.

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