Upper Spencer Gulf leaders set election strategy

REGIONAL GROWTH: Brett Benbow, Leon Stephens, Jenny Barnes, John Banks and Andrew Johnson launch the ‘Transforming the Upper Spencer Gulf’ strategy.
REGIONAL GROWTH: Brett Benbow, Leon Stephens, Jenny Barnes, John Banks and Andrew Johnson launch the ‘Transforming the Upper Spencer Gulf’ strategy.

WITH the state election just six weeks away, the Spencer Gulf Cities has listed access to higher education among its major priorities for the region’s future.

Leaders from Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Whyalla came together on Tuesday, February 6 to unveil their election strategy by launching the ‘Transforming the Upper Spencer Gulf’ report, which underlines 30 regional initiatives to help grow the region.

In addition to higher education, the three cities plan to focus on improving city liveability, protecting natural assets and landscapes, and strengthening regional governance.

The report declares that support in these areas will result in growth in the region’s leading industries, including renewable energy, arid agriculture and innovation, defence, mining and national transport.

Port Augusta Deputy Mayor Brett Benbow highlighted the importance of skills and infrastructure in transitioning and diversifying the regional economy.

“We need to improve access to higher education and training in our region to support these emerging sectors and make sure we have the strategic infrastructure to secure our role as a transport intermodal hub,” Mr Benbow said.

We need to improve access to higher education and training in our region to support these emerging sectors ...

Deputy Mayor Brett Benbow

The 40-page strategy describes the Upper Spencer Gulf as a ‘region in transition’, with some of the world’s most significant mineral and renewable energy resources, natural biodiversity and landscapes.

The past 12 months have proven to be pivotal for the region, with the future of the smelter in Port Pirie and the steelworks in Whyalla both secured, while the Aurora Solar Energy Project in Port Augusta was given the green light.

Despite these achievements, Port Pirie Deputy Mayor Leon Stephens said the Upper Spencer Gulf cannot afford to be complacent.

“Ultimately this is about strengthening the role of Port Pirie, Whyalla and Port Augusta as regional centres, improving business and community confidence and making sure our three cities are places people want to come and live, work and visit,” he said.

“Ahead of the 2018 South Australian election, we are now seeking the support and commitment of all parties and local candidates to help us achieve these goals.”