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Opportunities Abound - An open letter to the Member for Narungga

April 4, 2022
Dianah Walter

April 2022

Open Letter to Fraser Ellis MP,  Member for Narungga

Dear Fraser

I again offer my congratulations, as I did in person at the declaration of the poll on March 30.  I wish you well in your next term as the Member for Narungga.

In the spirit of democracy, I said that I would write to you and if you were agreeable, meet with you to brief you on matters and issues I have been working on as part of my independent campaign for Narungga.

Across the State, electors shifted in their “Safe Liberal” seats to shift the status quo.  I have heard that constituents only have a tolerance for accountability, fairness, and equity in matters such as health and wellbeing, justice and the regional economy.

There is an even stronger appetite for an approach to representation that places the people of Narungga before the politics of a particular party.  You campaigned, as I did, as an independent.  You have indicated that you are uncertain as to what your future holds in the short term and haven’t ruled our returning to the Liberal Party fold.  Until you are certain of your next steps, I trust you will place the people of Narungga front and centre of all that you do.   

As a former candidate but always a constituent, below is a selection of my positions on matters brought to my attention and works in progress. 

Some matters will be familiar and others, not-so.  Thank you for considering these matters to add to your existing portfolios. 

I look forward to being part of a Narungga that thrives in a changing world, and in what is a very different political landscape.

Healthcare

We share the view that Narungga residents and visitors deserves better healthcare, and both campaigned strongly.  I encourage you, along with other actions you have committed to, to support my submission to the House of Assembly Petition No 84 of 2021 - SA Ambulance Service ResourcingIn particular, I ask that you lobby for at least 2 Community Paramedics, one based in the southern half and one in the northern part of the Yorke Peninsula. In fact, this should be explored across all large geographical regions. If not on a permanent basis, then during peak times such as Summer holidays, Easter, and other long weekends.  You may read my full submission at this link: I Stand with Our Ambos - Submission to Inquiry

Accountability

As a you no doubt appreciate, the basic principles of democracy include:

  • Respect for human dignity.
  • Equality before the law.
  • Safe and secure communities.
  • Good government that is efficient, transparent, responsive, and accountable to citizens.
  • Ability to hold elected representatives accountable.

The platform of accountability was the bedrock of my campaign.  Last year, South Australia slashed the power of its anti-corruption commission at the hand of the Government you were a part of.  I, along with many constituents I spoke with, felt that it was extraordinary that there was no politician in SA who had any second thoughts about the impact of the unanimous changes to legislation.

All that I ask is that you (and your fellow Members in the new Parliament) review Commissioner Vanstone's analysis of how the changes to the ICAC Act actually affect the integrity landscape in South Australian public administration. I would be grateful if you would consider responding with your views on the changes, in a letter to your constituents.  

The Commissioner’s report may be read here: An examination of the changes effected by recent amendments to the ICAC Act 2012

My piece on the swiftly passed ICAC Act Amendments

Nharangga Aboriginal Progress Association Inc (NAPA)

I have been privileged to work, in a gratis capacity, with NAPA for the past 12 or more months.  It is apparent to me that this organisation needs a commitment from the Government to have its operational costs funded for at least the next four (4) years.  A business case is needed however I’m confident will demonstrate an excellent return on investment.  This is a significant priority for Nharangga people.   I also believe that the provision of Cultural Training could be rolled-out across the region for business and government agencies alike.

I participated in stage 1 of the training – it is compelling – I recommend you do too. Truth Telling - a review of cultural training

Inclusion & Disability

I am reminded daily of the challenges people with disability face in Narungga.  For those in our community who are able-bodied, it only takes one life-changing event to bring about a disability that impacts activities of daily living and changes lives irreversibly.

The accessibility of the built environment, quality services and information are key to making sure people living with disability are included and have the opportunity to equally participate in all aspects of society and life. The three tiers of government aim to increase accessibility to public and community infrastructure, transport, services, information, sport and recreation and the greater community.  Locally there are many gaps that need to be met. 

The electorate is aging and not everyone has the same opportunity to participate socially or in other ways in our communities.  Lack of mobility and other factors hinder this.  Things that able-bodied people take for granted such as access to shops and outdoor recreation such as beaches and parks all need consideration.   There are also no opportunities for wheelchair users to move around the region, with transportation an identified gap.

I would encourage to you facilitate a roundtable, or similar, inviting people with disability and their carers to participate and contribute.  I am confident there would be many opportunities and solutions you could champion and advocate for to make Narungga more inclusive. Inclusive SA - Principles

HECS HELP Debt Waiver/Write off

When I launched my campaign, I proposed that the State Government partner with the Federal Government to waive/write off HECS HELP Debts as an incentive to attract a range of professions to the regions.

I ask that you call on the Malinauskas Labor Government to adopt, refine and implement incentives for Allied Health and other professionals to relocate to the Regions. There may be some merit to use Narungga as part of a wider pilot project   I note that, at a Federal Level, this initiative has been employed as a way to attract and retain Doctors to regional Rural and Remote areas.  It can and will work across all professions.

HECS HELP - Debt waiver

Marion Bay Speed Limit

Spending time in small communities such as Marion Bay was truly rewarding.  These communities told me that they felt largely ignored and overlooked by government/s.  Simple matters like community safety have been a battle to address.   

I raised the matter of the Speed Limit - Stenhouse Bay Rd, (Yorke Highway) Marion Bay and provision for safe parking adjacent the Marion Bay General Store with former government Ministers responsible for Police, Road Safety, and infrastructure.  The issue remains unresolved.  Please pick this up and lobby the new Government so this recommendation can be brought to fruition.  You may read my letter at this link.

Letter to Ministers - Marion Bay Speed Limit to be reduced

Lifeline Connect Centre for Moonta

As you are aware, Lifeline Broken Hill Country to Coast has acquired a building in Moonta. The Lifeline retail shop has the rooms to establish a Connect Centre.  The next phase will be to fund the Connect Centre setup and get qualified counselling staff to support the community.  I have pledged my support to this important initiative and ask that you do too. Please work to secure funding to ensure this vital service can be implemented locally. 
This is my piece about the data recently obtained from

Mental Health Matters - LifeLine Connect

Boating Facilities & Safety – Marion Bay & Edithburgh

Marion Bay

With our borders closed during the past 2 years, more people have holidayed closer to home. Locally Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park has experienced a 90% increase in visitation in 2020 when compared to the same time in 2019.  (I can only imagine those numbers continuing to grow). This, along with recreational fishers venturing away from their ‘home’ ports, has also seen more recreational vessels launch from Marion Bay.

It is important to note that Marion Bay is one of only a handful of launching/retrieval facilities at the bottom end of Yorke Peninsula between Edithburgh and Point Turton.  The importance of having safe and adequate boating facilities across South Australia for boat owners and fishers must be acknowledged.

I have had number of meetings with regarding boating infrastructure, in particular the need to upgrade the Marion Bay boat launching and retrieval facility.  There is also a need, in parallel, that the adjacent car park area be sealed and be redesigned as a fit for purpose site in the event of emergencies, such as Medi-vacs via helicopter. 

It was pleasing to learn of the commitment of the Yorke Peninsula Council to progress plans for an upgraded facility.  As you would be aware, the SA Boating Levy monies are used for establishing and improving boating facilities in South Australia's coastal and inland waters including:

  • boat ramps
  • temporary mooring facilities or wharves
  • channel improvements
  • aids to navigation
  • 24/7 emergency VHF marine radio services

Boat Ramps are categories by classification - you can learn more about the classification of Boat Ramps here:  https://dit.sa.gov.au/.../SA_Boating_Facilities_Strategic

I encourage  you to work with the Marion Bay Community and Council in support of bringing the vision of an upgraded facility to life.  Please also engage with those who use the facilities at Port Moorowie  and Foul bay.  They too have boat ramps that need improving.

Edithburgh

I was approached by a concerned user of the facility and took time to inspect the Edithburgh boat ramp personally.  I understand that the Yorke Peninsula Council has been petitioned and there will be some further discussions as to what can be done to fix the issue around vessel retrieval at low water and the gradient of the ramp.  This impacts recreational and commercial operators.

Can you please follow this up and work on a solution for this community?

Marion Bay – other issues

The Marion Bay Progress Association can brief you further on these issues.

  • Power and water issues (cost of RO water)
  • Mobile phone towers and back-up power supply (batteries)
  • Public toilets – need options to keep pumps going when the power fails
  • Signage for visitors with low fuel supplies
  • Jetty maintenance

Rubbish – refuse & recyclables

You would be aware this issue is not new, and the recent holiday season has seen significant visitation to the region. I understand that waste management is one of the largest expenses for councils, with more than $198 million spent in 2017/2018 in SA.  I encourage you to please work with the Marion Bay and the SYP communities towards a cost effective and sustainable solution.

Mining and Agriculture

You campaigned strongly and spoke often of the act/s of  ‘crossing the floor’ in support of farming communities here on the Yorke Peninsula in an effort to ‘shut the gate’ on mining. 

Since I wrote my submission into the Land Access Select Committee with the view that mining and farming on the YP cannot co-exists, there is mounting evidence that suggests there is strong appetite in the community, including the agricultural sector, to find balance. 

It’s nuanced.  The balance I speak of is how we transition to a carbon neutral economy.   At the November 2021 AGM, Rex CEO quoted Wood Mackenzie (global research and consultancy business) “The energy transition starts and ends with metals.” And copper “sits at the nexus of the energy transition.” “Achieving global net zero is inexorably linked to base metals supply.”

The State Government has regulatory oversight over the Hillside Mine and in July 2020, Hillside’s Program for Environment Protection and Rehabilitation (PEPR) for Stage 1 of the Project was approved by the then Marshall Liberal Government.  The Project is shovel ready, having obtained key 5 federal and state government approvals.

At the GPSA Election Platform Forum in Maitland last month you conceded that ‘crossing the floor’ was not going to change the outcome of the bill and that the development of the mine would in fact deliver benefits to the community including water security by way of a pipeline, road infrastructure, jobs and more.

I look to science and robust peer reviewed evidence to inform decision making and forming of opinions.  I trust you will too. Many voices. Many views.  We must find balance.  I strongly support an independent advisory panel, comprising members with practical understanding of agriculture, mining, and other perspectives, to engage resource companies and landowners, inform decision-making and assist in dispute resolution.

Whilst you remain on the crossbench your actions of shifting across the chamber to vote with the community on a range of issues will continue to be watched with interest. 

Mesonet – Weather Stations

The primary aim of the Mesonet has been to reduce agricultural spray drift, however the high-quality network has a range of other benefits particularly for fire danger and emergency services. I understand that there are many non-agricultural applications the network can support.  For instance, data that could be used by  CFS, SES, BoM, SARDI and SA Power Networks.  Just imagine the possibilities for preparedness in a changing climate! 

 This should be rolled-out over the Yorke Peninsula as it has been in other regions.  I encourage you to work with the team at CoTL Conditions over the Landscape to bring this to fruition.

COTA SA – Council on the Aging SA

I stand with COTA SA and value aging. COTA represents the rights, interests and futures of the more than 633,000 South Australians aged 50+, of which I am one.

This electorate has the 2nd oldest demographic in the State, second to Finniss. Please continue and escalate any work you may have commenced with COTA SA  as they work hard to represent the rights, interests and future of South Australians aged 50+.

Shelter SA

Housing is a basic human right.  The housing affordability crisis in Australia, in our own ‘backyard’ is real.  Homeownership is on the decline, fewer households are achieving mortgage-free homes before retirement, the private rental market cannot provide affordable homes for people living on low incomes, and our social housing system is not meeting the needs of our communities.

A low deposit scheme may help some people, but what is the effect on the housing market? SA regions are already hard hit. Please engage with Shelter SA and pledge your support to bring about housing affordability.  It requires a tripartite approach and local government has a role to play.  

SACOSS – We need to cover the basics.

SACOSS’ call is loud and clear.  They are simply asking that the state government and policy makers step up to ensure that people’s basic needs are met, through a range of state-level actions that will help reduce inequality and make a genuine difference for people who are struggling.

This call is ever more important as we grapple with the effects of, and recovery from, the COVID pandemic. We now know that COVID-19 has amplified inequality and fed off people’s existing vulnerabilities – low incomes, poorer health and insecure work.

Key areas highlighted by SACOSS are:

1. More affordable renting

2. Digital access & connection

3. A fairer concessions system

4. Investment in public health & prevention

5. Safe, affordable water

6. Protecting disadvantaged South Australians

Please ensure that covering the basics is front and centre of your decision making in this regard.

Grain Producers SA Election Platform  

Please further pledge your commitment and fight for the implementation of GPSA’s initiatives such as addressing the regional road maintenance backlog, fix mobile blackspots in farming areas of Narungga and to help farmers adapt to a changing climate.

The Breastscreen Initiative (TBSI)

Over the years, I have had many conversations about women’s health and the health and wellbeing of regional women and girls more broadly. 

During my campaign, I learned about the efforts of the Australian General Practitioners Network and the Australian Association of General Practitioners to attain funding for their project which promises to provide a solution to increase breast screening rates in Australia into the 90% range.   

Importantly TBSI promises to save lives and reduce the burden of late-stage disease on the health system and on families.  I agree that right now the screening rates are akin to only screening one breast.  I have been actively promoting the initiative via my networks and am delighted to take an ‘endorsed’ role as the initiative’s, Yorke Peninsula and Mid North Ambassador.

As a woman who is in her mid-50s, lost her maternal grandmother to breast cancer when I was only a small child, and have too many friends and family impacted by breast cancer and other cancers, I know too well the benefits of screening, education and the importance of a close and trusted relationship one can build with a family GP.

Which Breast?

I am proud to be a Community Ambassador for the Yorke Peninsula & Mid-North region About - The Breastscreen Initiative  Please continue to lobby to secure funding for a pilot project here in Narungga for this important initiative. 

Roads & Infrastructure

State and Federal grant funding schemes are vital to the five Local Government areas within Narungga. Road safety is indelibly linked to these schemes, which include the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program and Remote Roads Upgrade Pilot Program.

I believe much greater urgency in funding our critical commodity routes will enable produce and freight to be transported faster, better, and safer. I want this State government to accept its responsibilities on ALL our Narungga roads, not leave us bogged in the mud of mediocrity.

To do this, there’s opportunity to review the formula used by the SA Local Government Grants Commission (which disperses many grants that fund roads). Yes, all councils get a share - but metropolitan councils do not encounter large volumes of heavy vehicles impacting our rural roads.

There are processes in place known to the State government - and some others - which aid in distribution of funds to councils to help pay for roads and infrastructure. It’s “OK” but not perfect and commissioning a review was to be my aim.  

Now that the Malinauskas Labor Government has created a Ministerial portfolio responsibility for Regional Roads and Geoff Brock MP (Ind - Stuart) has been appointed, I encourage you to work with him to commission such a review.

Childcare in Kadina and the wider Copper Coast, Barunga and Wakefield Regional Council areas

The recent grant of $2.25m received by the Yorke Peninsula Council from the federal government to help set up a childcare centre at Minlaton  goes a long way in addressing this structural shortage here on the Yorke Peninsula. As an aside, I was pleased to be part that process, albeit behind the scenes.

There is still more work to do. More than 800,000 South Australians are living in an area with an acute shortage of childcare, a report by Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute has found. 

The review, which assessed childcare provision across the country, deemed 36 per cent of greater metropolitan residents to be living in “childcare deserts”, along with 82 per cent of regional South Australians. 

These are areas where three or more children under four are vying for each childcare space. Here on the Yorke Peninsula, it’s 9 children per place.   I urge you to continue strong lobbying and action until other areas of Narungga have their childcare issues resolved.

Country Needs People - Indigenous Rangers

I strongly backed this call to increase support for Indigenous Rangers and land and sea management across South Australia. We need more community supported Aboriginal Ranger jobs, looking after country and culture. Good for people, good for nature, great for South Australia.

Please commit to working with stakeholders to progress the following:

1. Developing a Looking after Country strategy for South Australia
2. Establishing a SA Aboriginal Ranger Program to protect South Australia’s cultural and environmental leadership and provide up to 50 full-time equivalent jobs for Aboriginal people
3. Investing $8 million over four years in a Looking after Country Project Fund
4. Establishing an annual $750,000 Indigenous land and sea management small-grants program to support new and emerging groups.

Creative Industries

In SA there are 12 creative industries (CI) with growth potential. The CI in SA contributed $1.6 Billion to the economy 20/21 despite COVID disruption & impacts. I support the SA Creative Industries Think Tank to progress their long-term vision and encourage you too.

Medicinal Cannabis – Access & Affordability

As you know I have been an advocate for Medicinal Cannabis for many years.  I am also a patient. Please don’t push patients away.  I would be happy to inform you on the benefits of Cannabis.  The offer I made, pre-2018 and subsequent offers of briefings, still stand.

Medicinal Cannabis - Sharing your lived experience

If you don’t wish to meet with me on this particular matter, I will happily facilitate another delegate.

Drive Change – Drug Driving Law Reform for Medicinal Cannabis Patients

Representatives from government, law enforcement and patient advocacy groups are uniting to Drive Change.  I am proud to be associated with this campaign which promises to help create drug driving law reform that’s fair, equal, and improves public health.  Please review the evidence here: About Drive Change

I also encourage you to back The Road Traffic (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill 2021 as introduced by The Hon Tammy Franks MLC in February last year. Offering Medicinal Cannabis Patients, a defence

Our current drug driving laws have failed to improve road safety and unfairly discriminate against thousands of people by imposing a grossly disproportionate punishment regime against individuals and impeding broader public health outcomes for the growing number of South Australians who are seeking an alternative to addicting and impairing pharmaceutical medicines.

The Bill provides for a complete defence against the charge of driving with the detectable presence of THC in oral fluid or blood where a person has a valid doctor’s prescription for a medicinal cannabis product containing THC and that product has been administered as directed.  As one with a law degree you would appreciate the importance of this amendment bill for Medicinal Cannabis patients.

Decriminalisation of Sex Work

Decriminalisation – It is the only model that will comprehensively afford sex workers and women their fundamental rights and protections. I recognise the efforts of sitting and former MPs such as, Hon Tammy Franks MLC, The Hon Michelle Lensink MLC, Duncan McFetridge MP (former), Vickie Chapman MP and the Hon Steph Key (former) and the Hon Diana Laidlaw (former) who have paved the way in working towards a full decriminalisation model.

The Sex Industry Decriminalisation Action Committee (SIDAC) are to be commended for their strong advocacy and commitment to workers’ rights, human rights and the health and safety of sex workers.  I stand with them and believe that it is time for South Australia to recognise sex work as work, remove the criminal provisions and provide sex workers access to their human and workers’ rights.

Please vote to pass The Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill in this Parliament.

Incentives for Private Farm Fire Unit Operators

I proposed waiving vehicle registration charges, especially for those associated with farm fire units. Of course, they would be required to be registered with the CFS and certified, but wouldn’t it be a good place to start?

A simple and useful form of recognition for our farmers and their ongoing commitment and why stop there.

With that measure, perhaps we could also look at a flat rate uniform reduction in vehicle registration to assist other volunteers in Emergency Services and to entice new membership. What are your thoughts?  Can you please progress this?  More here:  Incentives for Farm Fire Unit Operators and CFS Volunteers

North Coast Road, Point Turton

This road upgrade MUST be a priority.  In October last year, I offered my support to the Yorke Peninsula Council to  advocate to secure funding for that stretch of road.  It is outrageous that Council’s application was overlooked for projects not ranked as high. 

Please ensure this matter is addressed urgently.

Pied Cormorant Issue

I welcomed the recent call to arms from representatives of the Port Vincent, Coobowie, Edithburgh and Stansbury Progress Associations for a plan of action.    I have already met and spoken with a range of stakeholders whose business, amenity and lifestyle are impacted by the roosting habits of the Pied Cormorant populations along parts the Yorke Peninsula Coast.  I understand that this issue is not confined to our region.

Late last year, I commenced a plan of action which seeks to better understand what efforts to mitigate the problem have already taken place.  This is so the successes and failures can be measured and ruled out or ruled in.  This includes what funding and other resources has been allocated, expended and by whom.

It is my view that any potential long-term solution must be underpinned by robust research and science and a deep understanding of animal behaviour.  It must also be both humane and pragmatic and very much a collaborative approach. I understand this issue has been a wicked problem for more than a decade.  It is time to now approach this in a considered and solutions focussed way.

Please continue to work closely with the communities and those who conduct business in the areas impacted, including tourism operators.  I was going to convene a small working group to oversee this process however am not in a position to do so but ask that you do.

The above list is not exhaustive, but it provides you insights into matters brought to my attention and other matters I was hoping to champion, should I have been elected.

Thank you, in anticipation of you taking the time to review and reflect on this correspondence. Again, I wish you well in your next term.

Yours sincerely


Dianah Walter

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