Mayors critical of Whetstone

FRUSTRATED: Port Pirie Mayor John Rohde (left), Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer and Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson say they have yet to meet with Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone.
FRUSTRATED: Port Pirie Mayor John Rohde (left), Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer and Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson say they have yet to meet with Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone.

The mayors of the Upper Spencer Gulf have expressed frustration over difficulties meeting Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone.

Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer, Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson and Port Pirie Mayor John Rohde say they had repeatedly raised the need to meet Minister Whetstone with his office.

The group were given a recently offered a timeslot, but, with less than a week’s notice, the Mayors all had prior commitments and could not attend.

The Mayors said they had previously had positive meetings with Treasurer Rob Lucas, Investment Minister David Ridgway and Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

“It is disappointing that, some six months after the election, we have still not been able to meet with the new Minister for Regional Development,” Mr Johnson said.

Mr Johnson said requests to meet with other Ministers on key issues around skills, education and training have all been referred to Minister Whetstone, creating a stalemate.

“We have a significant workforce issue looming in the Upper Spencer Gulf, we have the Uni Hub commencing next year and a number of key initiatives that we are seeking support from Government on,” he said.

Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer said whilst the future Upper Spencer Gulf is looking positive, now, more than ever, a strong partnership with Government is required.

“We have a number of fabulous economic investments in our region and we now need to do everything we can to provide the workforce, services and infrastructure at a community level to support them,” she said.

“That will require a strong level of engagement and partnership effort by all levels of Government.”

Port Pirie Mayor John Rohde said the three cities were keen to understand Minister Whetsone’s vision for regional SA and for the Upper Spencer Gulf.

“We have a strong foundation in the Upper Spencer Gulf to build on but need Government to work with us to keep that momentum going and to make sure we are all heading in the same direction,” he said.

Minister Whetstone said he had met with mayors and councillors in the Port Augusta, Whyalla and the Port Pirie Regional Council areas this week, discussing any issues they wanted to raise.

“It is unfortunate the Port Augusta mayor was not available to meet,” he said.

“Liberal Ministers are frequently visiting the regions and I am willing to meet with the Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla councils during future visits to those cities.”