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MEMBER FOR MAYO: Our new voice in Canberra

23 Aug 2016

 

 Meeting with the Federal Member for Mayo – Ms Rebekha Sharkie

 

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has attended her first sessions in Canberra, armed with a list of key issues important to Business Kangaroo Island members.

 

The executive of BKI met with Ms Sharkie on the island recently and asked members to provide list of issues and questions. They were:

  • Issues associated with sea passage access - cost of freight, capacity for businesses to be competitive due to costs associated with sea passage access.

  • Tax Zones – can KI have a concessional tax rate as an isolated area?

  • Issues with banks reluctant to lend for property on KI.

  • Roads - SA has 11% of nation’s roads; 7% of nation’s population; receives only 5% of federal road spend.

  • Infrastructure - particularly mains water supply and undersea electricity cable.

 

Ms Sharkie said she was keen to follow up on these issues and assist where possible.

 

 

Meeting with the Federal Member for Mayo – Ms Rebekha Sharkie

 

The committee of Business Kangaroo Island met with Ms Sharkie on Thursday 28th August to welcome her into her newly appointed role as the Member for Mayo and begin to discuss some of the complex issues which businesses face on KI. 

 

From our member survey conducted last year (on the membership forms) we know that the number one issue affecting businesses is the cost of access.  What we were able to point out to Ms Sharkie was that it is not just as simple as the cost of getting freight to the Island, but the cost of getting produce off the Island and the high cost of travel to and from the Island for tourists and locals alike. All of these factors together compound the issue

 

This issue is always contentious and is not a quick fix – but at least with better understanding and a renewed push we can keep it on the ‘burner’ and it can form a part of the conversations which Ms Sharkie will have with respect to the electorate of Mayo and the amount of spending on road networks within the state compared with other states.

 

We discussed future road funding; we all know that quality infrastructure is the backbone of strong economies and business investment.  Kangaroo Island is no different – except that it struggles to maintain (let alone improve) its road network.  Ms Sharkie advised that federal road funding is very much on her agenda as SA has 11% of nations roads; 7% of nations population and yet receives only 5% of federal road spend.  Business KI is advocating for further funding from the Federal government for the road networks.

 

Ms Sharkie was able to confirm that pre-election promises made by the Turnbull government with regards to Black Spot Road funding will be kept.  The same was said for the ‘promised’ mobile phone towers at Stokes Bay and Gosse. So it is really pleasing to hear that these projects will proceed.

 

Kangaroo Islands average wages are well below that of the national average and our cost of living are higher (Zone tax allowance for residents). The federal government has the ability to look into tax concessions for disadvantaged and isolated communities.  Although not huge these possible tax allowances could provide some relief to low income earners.

 

Water and Energy infrastructure was also touched upon; it is important to encourage these private companies (SA Water/SAPN) into reviewing their infrastructure plans in light of upcoming developments; KI needs to be pro-active in planning for development not reactive and therefore in a position where (considered) development is unable to proceed i.e. water infrastructure for Golf Course/American river resort; but also the township of American river and the businesses along the ‘new pipeline’ route.  The Emu Bay development – an additional 79 blocks of land to be developed – township could do with water in the future.  SA Water need to look at ways of guaranteeing water availability into the future for KI and its developing markets (tourism/forestry/agribusiness & population growth).

 

Finally, we touched on the point of businesses on KI being unable to access the equity capital in their properties to fund business development and growth.  Banks are obviously very risk adverse, but that problem is exacerbated on KI due to the poor property market and lower land values.  Ms Sharkie suggested that she and we would look at taking this issue to the banking ombudsman.

 

 

 

 

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