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By PAMELA PERRE
The three Riverland councils
are each missing out on up to
$130,000 in additional Federal
Government grants this year,
following a freeze on indexation
for the annually distributed funds.
The allocations for the Financial
Assistance Grants, announced earlier
this week, are as follows:
q Berri Barmera Council will
receive about $2.6 million.
q Renmark Paringa Council
(RPC) about $2.7 million.
q District Council of Loxton Wai-
kerie (DCLW) about $4.3 million.
DCLW chief executive officer
Peter Ackland welcomed the annual
grant, but said the Federal Govern-
ment’s decision to put a freeze on
indexation for the program would
leave his council about $127,000 out
“That’s about 1.5 per cent of our
rate revenue,” he said.
“So it’s a significant hit for our dis-
trict, the fact that this indexation has
now been frozen.
“This is the first year of three (that
the freeze will last), so if the con-
sumer price index (CPI) stays around
roughly the same number, we’re going
to (lose) around $125,000 this year
and next year and the year after.
“That all added up, it’s a signifi-
cant number over the three-year peri-
Mr Ackland said the freeze added
to the discontinuation of the Federal
Government’s Supplementary Road
Funding (SRF) program.
“This was also the first year that
we didn’t get the supplementary
road funding, and that along with
the indexation are worth around
$420,000, so that’s an exceeding
amount of money,” he said.
“(In our budget) we had to essen-
tially pull out $420,000 odd.”
RPC chief executive officer Tony
Siviour said the indexation freeze and
the removal of the SRF has impacted
his council’s budget by $200,000 this
“The removal of the indexation
and the loss of the accumulative effect
over the next three-year period will
have serious implications for River-
land councils,” he said.
“It is estimated for the region this
will equate to a loss of $3.34 million
unless the Federal Government looks
to address this decision.
“As a region we have written to
Senator Ruston to ask what actions
she has undertaken to represent not
only our councils but also councils in
South Australia who have been unfair-
ly disadvantaged more than other
councils in Australia.”
Mr Ackland said the changes
would impact regional councils in
“The Financial Assistance Grants
are essentially equalisation grants, so
it looks at if you have a big area with
less people in it, or a big area with
lots of roads,” he said.
“In rural areas in particular, they
have less capacity to raise rates
than say the metropolitan people do
because there are less people per
“So, by cutting those road grants
along with the indexation, that makes
it very difficult for councils, par-
ticularly regional councils, to main-
tain levels of service that have been
expected over a long period of time.”
Local Government Association
president David O’Loughlin agreed
saying it was “a shame” the Federal
Government would not reconsider
removing the freeze on indexation.
Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister for Infrastructure and
Regional Development Warren Truss
said the Financial Assistance Grants
came with “no strings attached”,
meaning councils were free to spend
their allocation according to local pri-
“This vital cash injection to meet
local needs comes on top of the $31.5
million South Australian councils are
entitled to receive this financial year
under the Roads to Recovery pro-
gram,” he said.
“South Australian Councils will
receive a double Roads to Recovery
payment next year of $63.0 million.”
District Council of Loxton Waikerie chief executive officer Peter Ackland has welcomed the Federal
Government’s annual Financial Assistance Grants, but says a freeze on indexation has put financial
strain on local councils.
PHOTO: Will Slee
to cost councils
It’s a significant
hit for our district...
-P E TE R ACKLAND
HAC vows to fight for survival
Council of Loxton
Waikerie has thrown
its weight behind
the Loxton and
(HAC) as it vows to
fight any push for
Premier Jay Weather-
ill announced last month
that every Government
committee faced abol-
ishment “unless it could
demonstrate it has an
essential purpose that
cannot be fulfilled in an
HAC presiding mem-
ber Sally Goode spoke
with Loxton Waikerie
councillors last week,
voicing “serious con-
cerns” that the Loxton
Hospital was under
Ms Goode said the
hospital’s land titles,
which are currently in
the hands of the HAC,
could pass to a regional
body if individual coun-
cils were merged.
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