Member of the South Australian Legislative Council for the Family First Party Rob Brokenshire visited Port Augusta last week to discuss his party’s plan of action for regional South Australia.
Mr Brokenshire labelled the current Labor government as ‘city-centric”, promising a larger focus on regional SA from Family First with particular reference to healthcare, Indigenous issues and growth in the agriculture sector.
“Family First are a statewide-focussed party, and we will continue to argue the case for country South Australia because too much emphasis is on the city,” he said.
Mr Brokenshire affirmed his party’s commitment to Indigenous issues, emphasizing a proposed implementation of a ‘healing centre’ for Indigenous Australians as an alternative to mainstream prison correctional facilities.
“With respect to the criminal justice system, Family First are not happy and don’t believe that traditional way of normal correctional services is in the best interest of the community generally,” Mr Brokenshire said.
He described the proposed ‘healing centre’ as a stand-alone correctional facility for those Indigenous people committing minor crimes, used to rehabilitate and develop opportunities.
“It’s not a soft option,” he said.
“There’s a need in the north, somewhere, for that type of centre.
“I can’t think of a better area to do it than somewhere between Port Augusta and the [APY] Lands.”
He also confirmed Family First’s commitment to ensuring healthcare matters are addressed in regional SA, such as the need for renal dialysis in the far north.
Mr Brokenshire said he “strongly supports” Liberal leader Steven Marshall’s proposal to ensure the implementation of a permanent renal dialysis unit in the APY Lands.
Another focal point in regional SA for Family First is the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS).
He said Family First was pleased to see both of the major parties commit to increasing PATS by $2.5 million.
“The government were initially looking to reduce the eligibility criteria, which would have been horrendous,” Mr Brokenshire said.
“It’s still not a generous scheme, but we’ve eliminated the government’s consideration of reducing eligibility for the scheme.”
He said Family First will continue to monitor the feasibility of PATS for regional South Australians, and promised a push for more funding in the future and the possibility of a re-evaluation of the criteria for more eligibility.
Mr Brokenshire further outlined his party’s plan to push for a primary producers/ agricultural and regional standing committee of the Parliament.
“We want to see more focus on rural South Australia in the regions,” he said.
“We support the Local Government Association’s call for 30 per cent increase in public servants being sent to the country.
“We want to see a real focus on agriculture to grow the state’s economy and take over from some of the sad situations we’ve got, like the demise of General Motors Holden.
“We’ve got to double food production over the next 40 years to have any hope of supplying food to the world as we know it today."
Mr Brokenshire also promised Family First would focus on infrastructure, improvement of sporting facilities, job focussed opportunities and a review of the mining act for regional South Australia.