Rural pollies walk the talk

Rural politicians are a different breed: they live with myriad issues on a daily basis

WITH just more than two weeks before South Australia elects a government for the next four years, Stock Journal has reached the halfway mark in its electoral coverage.

It's been an interesting first three weeks.

Rural politicians are a different breed: they live with myriad issues on a daily basis.

There's no escape, nowhere to hide - something leaders of the major parties should learn.

Premier Jay Weatherill, for instance, challenging "common conservative perceptions" that Labor had not been good for regional SA, opened a can of worms.

He said Labor had "united the whole of the river communities, together with the city" to score more water for River Murray irrigators. Depending on whom you talk to in Chaffey, there is some truth in that – but the problems of the basin, environmental flows and disparity between the states remain a huge problem.

The Premier then went on to spruik the "good price" he obtained for the sale of South East forward forest rotations, which certainly received no truck from politicians at Mount Gambier and MacKillop – including those representing Labor.

While the general consensus is to move on and use $27 million allocated to realigning the industry's manufacturing (milling) base, selling an asset with an annual $40m revenue stream for just $670m left everyone gobsmacked.

In the electorates of Frome, Stuart and Giles, hardworking politicians – such as Frome Independent Geoff Brock and Liberal candidate for the electorate Kendall Jackson, Dan van Holst Pellekaan (Liberal Member for Stuart), Labor candidate for Giles Eddie Hughes and Liberal hopeful for the seat Bernadette Abraham – deal with the country-city divide, a lack of access to services (taken for granted by voters in Adelaide) and have to convince their constituents they are working hard enough to make themselves heard in parliament.

Unfortunately, the Agriculture Minister and her shadow Liberal opponent, releasing their respective policies for rural SA, failed to even scratch the surface of the widespread discontent felt in the regions.

Shadow agriculture spokesman David Ridgway promised investment to create more export opportunities, and covered a lot of old ground in the proposed Agribusiness, Food and Wine Bicentary Plan: A Vision to 2036. Opposition leader Steven Marshall banged on about bike paths at McLaren Vale.

Labor at least mentioned an integrated transport plan which "included" a regional road and freight network. Otherwise, it covered the old chesnut of 'clean, green and wonderful'.

Health, education, unemployment, regional development, crumbling roads: they are major issues for regional SA. And it's about time those embedded at North Terrace got the message.

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READER COMMENTS

Fred
3/03/2014 5:42:21 AM

Your statement that He said Labor had "united the whole of the river communities, together with the city" to score more water for River Murray irrigators" is factually incorrect - they lost water. Also the following line should be expanded. A nonsensical paragraph if ever there was and one which does the journalist no credit.
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.

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