Residents were given the chance to discuss pressing issues with Labor Leader Peter Malinauskas at Politics in the Pub in the Westlands Hotel on Sunday.
The visit was part of The Labor Listening tour, which will see the Opposition Leader visit various parts of Whyalla, Cowell and Port Lincoln.
Mr Malinauskas, who was flanked by Member for Giles Eddie Hughes and Legislative Council Member Justin Hanson, said it was important that Labor committed to listening to the needs of rural communities while in opposition.
“We lost the election for a reason,” he said.
“You can read all the reports in the world, meet as many bureaucrats as you like, but that will never replicate getting feedback from the community members on the ground about what we can do better.
“It’s important as a party to make sure that everything we hope can be achieved in Whyalla is achieved, and put pressure on the state government to do that.”
With Kimba and Hawker communities set to vote on whether to support hosting the federal government’s nuclear waste management facility, Mr Malinauskas raised concerns about the consultation process so far.
“There needs to be a serious plan about how we deal with nuclear waste, that’s obvious,” he said.
“But where it goes should have feedback from local communities. I am concerned that the process has deprived local communities of that involvement.”
Mr Malinauskas said the Labor Party were yet to announce their position on the state government’s rate-capping policy, but acknowledged that a number of councils were opposed to the idea.
“When you go out to regional communities there is a very strong feeling that local government is an important service for their area. There is concern rate-capping will deprive them of that capacity,” he said.
“I sympathise with the desire to keep costs down. I think a lot of people in these communities are doing it tough at the moment. But at the same time people don’t want basic services to be expensive.”
Member for Giles Eddie Hughes said a key issue he was hearing from the community was the need for ‘on the ground’ investment in Whyalla’s renewable and steel industries.
“There’s work going on behind the scenes, so hopefully Sanjeev Gupta is going to deliver upon the projects he has been talking about,” he said.
“I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day and different projects are at different stages. We’re still waiting to see the ultimate scale and time-frame for them.”
Mr Malinauskas and Mr Hughes will be attending a private meeting with GFG Alliance today. They then plan to visit the site of Whyalla’s new jetty which Labor previously put $1 million in funding towards.