18 Jul 2019
Greg Mayfield | Port Pirie Recorder
MAYOR Leon Stephens will meet regularly with Premier Steven Marshall to discuss the future of our city.
Mr Stephens said Mr Marshall had agreed to meetings every four months with the Spencer Gulf Cities comprising Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla.
This is expected to lead to better relations between the state government and the Upper Spencer Gulf and to fast-track projects.
Mr Stephens said the first meeting would be at dinner in Adelaide with Cabinet Ministers including Stuart MP Dan van Holst Pellekaan who had played a role in bringing about the summits.
“We will go straight to the top instead of what we have had to do in the past through working hard in the background,” he said.
“It is immensely important to Port Pirie’s future. The biggest problem for us is to inform the government of the day of what our needs are and what our opportunities are in our particular area.”
He said it would enable projects to “take their proper course with us driving from the backseat”. The first two meetings were likely to be in Adelaide with the next one in Port Augusta.
Mayors of the cities plus their councils’ chief executive officers and Spencer Gulf Cities executive officer Anita Crisp would be welcome at the meetings.
Mr Stephens said the cities’ group had recently met the Premier and “we are really getting through to him”. Port Pirie Regional Council is seeking about $7 million from the government for roadworks and an underpass at a planned $60 million abattoir at Warnertown.
The group said its mayors were continuing to champion the needs of the region, meeting with some state parliamentarians recently, including Mr Marshall.
Mr Stephens, who is chairman of the group, said the meetings were timely, particularly given the wide range of opportunities in the cities.
“It is important that we keep highlighting what is going on in the Upper Spencer Gulf,” he said.
“We had a positive meeting with the Premier. He was genuinely interested in what is going on in our cities and promised to meet regularly which is fantastic.”
Mr Stephens said the group had a full day in Parliament House, not only meeting with the Premier, but also Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas and deputy leader Susan Close and members
of the Legislative Council including Andrew McLachlan, Justin Hanson, John Darley and Tammy Franks.
“The meetings focussed on the need for our cities to work with government to diversify our local economies and to ‘grow our own’ skilled workforce through initiatives such as UniHub Spencer Gulf,” he said.
“We highlighted a range of strategic transport infrastructure upgrades that are required in order to help unlock development opportunities and enhance intermodal efficiencies.
“They included upgrades along the Augusta Highway around Port Pirie and Port Augusta that we consider to be short-term priorities in light of the commitment to duplication of the Joy Baluch AM Bridge and the whole of the highway in the longer term.”