Locals invited to have say on Coober Pedy future

The future governance of Coober Pedy which is in long-term administration will be discussed today at a local community meeting attended by the state Ombudsman and Local Government Minister.

Aug 23, 2022, updated Aug 23, 2022
Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy

All local residents have been invited to the 6:15pm meeting on Tuesday at The Greek Hall to discuss the “future governance, leadership needs, and direction for Coober Pedy”.

The meeting is due to hear from Ombudsman Wayne Lines – who has written two scathing reports about Coober Pedy District Council – the Office of Local Government and Minister for Local Government Geoff Brock.

“This gathering is the first step in many of the state government and Coober Pedy working in partnership to find the way forward together,” the event invitation states.

It comes a week after Brock flagged the state government would be extending the debt-ridden Coober Pedy District Council’s suspension for another four years and establishing a top-level, multi-agency taskforce to address the outback town’ governance issues.

The council, which was put into administration in January 2019, still has more than $10m in debts to pay off to various creditors, including more than $7m owned to the Local Government Financing Authority and around $2m to the town’s electricity generator EDL.

The town also has an ageing water system which suffers from a leakage rate of between 30 to 50 per cent, leading to residents paying water bills three times higher than in the city, according to the council.

Tim Jackson, council’s administrator for the last three years, said his efforts to turn around the outback town’s finances have been “extremely difficult and quite traumatic”.

Jackson has called on the state government to buy up the town’s water and electricity assets – estimated to be worth between $12m and $14m – to clear the town’s debts and shrink the size of the council.

Brock has previously said it is up for the state government taskforce, in consultation with the community, to decide what is the best course of action.

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A state government spokesperson said Brock’s visit marked the first by a minister in more than four years.

“[Tuesday’s] forum which the minister is attending is an opportunity for him to listen to the community so they can raise their concerns and provide their feedback,” the spokesperson said.

Nominations for local government elections open across the state today.

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