Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:06): Today, I rise to voice the concerns of the Riverland community about the structural changes to legal services in the region and the severe impacts these decisions will have. Late last month, the state government announced a restructure of community legal services across the state and, sadly, the Riverland was hit the hardest. The Riverland Community Legal Service is based in Berri and provides a valuable service for those who cannot afford legal advice, particularly for issues which are often complex in nature and require face-to-face contact. It currently employs five staff and is a well-utilised service for the disadvantaged in our community. I am extremely concerned about these proposed changes.
The roll-out of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, the impact of electricity prices on irrigators, water allocation planning and Natural Resources Management levies will be amongst the key topics discussed during a tour of the Riverland by Shadow Minister for Environment David Speirs.
Hosted by the Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone, Mr Speirs will meet with key stakeholders, in relation to water security and irrigation needs, as well as discussing environmental projects, on June 28.
A key education policy aimed at giving every South Australian child a strong foundation in literacy – the Literacy Guarantee – was recently launched by the State Liberals.
With a focus on regional South Australia, students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties will be a key area of the comprehensive plan to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes for all students.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:21): I proudly stand today to inform the house that a Riverland town, Barmera, has been named the nation's 2017 tidiest town—an outstanding achievement. On the weekend, at the Australian Tidy Towns Awards in Tasmania, Barmera won four of the six categories and the town was highly commended in a fifth category, before being announced the nation's overall winner and after receiving the 2016 Keep South Australia Beautiful winner.
Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:14): I would like to speak about a local event that I attended over the weekend, the Woolenook internment camp's 75th anniversary. It was a unique event on the great River Murray, north of Renmark. We all had to hop onto the PS Industry, one of the most famous paddle steamers on the River Murray in South Australia. It has always been regarded as the fastest paddle steamer in South Australia on the River Murray. In fact, most of the people who attended the anniversary of the internment camp travelled up on the PS Industry. It was an opportunity for me to unveil a plaque commemorating the 75th anniversary of a historic site in the Riverland. It is a piece of Riverland history with a unique story that has not received as much attention as it deserves.
Regional ratepayers will be feeling the sting of the Weatherill Government’s disastrous energy policies after the Local Government Association warned councils will pay 30 to 50 per cent more for electricity in 2017.
Like any business of scale, local government isn’t immune to electricity price cost pressures and two new energy (electricity) supply contracts negotiated by LGA Procurement on behalf of councils will see costs increase by 30-50 per cent in 2017. These escalating costs will put pressure on council rates. (LGA: State Budget Submission 2017-18, p. 33)
Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone has welcomed the ACCC’s draft determination on SACOME’s joint electricity purchasing application on behalf of many South Australian businesses, including in the Riverland.
Mr Whetstone wrote to the ACCC to support SACOME’s application, which included Riverland based Central Irrigation Trust as part of the proposed buyer group.