The Riverland has suffered a population exodus in the 12 months to June 2016, raising a number of concerns about economic growth, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Between 30 June 2015 and 30 June 2016, the Riverland lost a net total of more than 300 people, raising concerns about the impact of high unemployment and current barriers to providing career opportunities for youth in the region.

Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone said in addition, ABS statistics show the Riverland has lost a staggering 2,256 people in net terms over the past 10 years (2006 to 2016).

“This sustained loss of people from the Riverland over the past decade needs further assessment and review, as well as a strategic approach about how to address this important issue,” Mr Whetstone said.

“The region offers an enviable lifestyle but lifestyle alone is not enough to retain people in the area. 

“The reality is, high unemployment and underemployment is impacting upon the region’s ability to maintain population size.

“The Labor Government’s obsession with centralising services from regional South Australia is also having an impact.

“Small to medium businesses are the backbone of the South Australian economy, yet too many businesses in the region are forced to focus on just surviving, hit by a swathe of government taxes and levies on top of skyrocketing utilities costs. 

“Giving businesses greater scope to invest, means more job opportunities will be created in regional areas, such as the Riverland. 

“Population growth is a key element to recharging our regions. The 6,484 people who left South Australia for interstate in the past 12 months in net terms, is 6,484 people who are no longer employed, studying, buying houses, eating at restaurants, buying a car, or educating their children in our state and in our regions,” Mr Whetstone said.

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