LEGISLATION to appoint a commissioner to represent the interests of people living and working in SA's cross-border communities was passed in both houses in state parliament this week.
The establishment of a cross-border commissioner was a key election commitment by the state government and led to the introduction of this legislation in the first sitting week of the new Parliament.
The commissioner will provide a new mechanism to address issues. facilitate collaboration and engagement with residents, businesses and community organisations, as well as all tiers of government.
The bill requires that the commissioner should have a detailed understanding of the issues affecting cross-border communities and should live within a cross-border community.
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Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Clare Scriven said the need for a commissioner was highlighted during COVID-19 border closures, which caused significant disruption for people living in border regions, but many issues existed long before the pandemic.
"Cross-border communities face a range of complicated issues on a daily basis, from firefighters experiencing difficulty fighting fires on the border, families who have children that attend schools in border communities, tradies who have several layers of red tape and regulation to service both areas - just to name a few," she said.
"This government is committed to ensuring that the needs of regional residents are heard and addressed, and this legislated role is a very positive step."
Opposition Regional SA spokesperson Nicola Centofanti said while it was "pleasing" to see some of the changes she had pushed hard for - including the requirement for the commissioner to reside in a regional centre, and a review of the legislation in the future - Labor voted against her amendments that would have "required the commissioner to consult with their regional communities and given them much needed power to acquire information from certain agencies".
A recruitment process will now be undertaken with the intent of announcing the successful candidate later this year.
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