Pages tagged "Primary Industries and Regional Development"
Question: Regional Rail
8 March 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional rail.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Last month, the Select Committee on Public and Active Transport handed down its report. Two of the recommendations contained in the report, recommendations 2 and 3, relate to regional rail. Under recommendation 2, the committee recommended that the state government—and I quote from the report:
…as a high priority conducts a trial of passenger train services from Mount Barker to Adelaide, with a view to adopting similar trials of services from Roseworthy to Gawler, Aldinga to Seaford and Adelaide to Port Augusta.
Under recommendation 3 the committee recommended that the state government:
(a) considers reactivation of regional rail for freight (particularly grain) and passenger services;
(b) in regards to regional rail, considers the environmental, health and wellbeing benefits of rail versus roads; and
(c) reports on expenditure on public transport in regional versus metropolitan areas per capita.
A story in yesterday's Stock Journal reports that grain producer Viterra is pushing for reinstatement of rail freight in Eyre Peninsula. Over the last five years, groups such as the South Australian Regional Rail Alliance have been calling for investment in rail infrastructure in areas including the Limestone Coast for passengers and freight. My question to the minister therefore is:
1. Has the minister read the report of the Select Committee on Public and Active Transport?
2. Does the minister support the reactivation of regional rail?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. I haven't read the report that the member refers to. In terms of supporting regional rail, I think what is needed when we look at any infrastructure is a cost-benefit analysis.
The benefits to industry, the benefits to passengers, the economic impacts—both positive and also the costs—all of those things are appropriate before any decision is made. I am happy to refer details to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure in the other place and if he has further information to add I am happy to bring that back to the chamber.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: given the focus on the regions, why hasn't the minister read the report of the committee and will she do so?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport is the minister who is responsible for that type of matter—transport, funnily enough—so I am sure that he is being briefed by his department on all appropriate literature that is available on the subject.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: does the minister not consider regional rail—and in particular regional freight—to be relevant to regional development?
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): Of course, every aspect of regional living is relevant to regional development, but that is different from being directly responsible for that. If I was to take a different view then I would potentially become minister for regional health, minister for regional transport, minister for regional education, the list would go on.
I am very fortunate that, as a regional member, I am able to have input when those discussions come up around the cabinet table as well as, of course, other discussions with my cabinet colleagues and my caucus around so much of this. Stakeholders who I meet with—which I do of course on a very regular basis, both here in Adelaide but importantly out in their own areas as well—do bring up issues which intersect with all areas of regional life. I am very fortunate to be able to have input into those discussions, but in terms of direct responsibility we of course have appropriate ministers for that.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: as part of the input into these discussions that the minister has, will she be advocating for regional rail?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I advocate for a wide range of issues. As I mentioned in my original answer, a cost-benefit analysis has to be appropriate for any type of decision that is made.
Motion: Regional Bank Closures
8 March 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I want to thank all my colleagues for their contributions: the Hon. Clare Scriven, the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, the Hon. Frank Pangallo, the Hon. Connie Bonaros and the Hon. Ms Game. I recognise that all parties and indeed all members in this place are supporting this motion and I really welcome that. It demonstrates the depth of concern that runs through the parliament and indeed through our community about the actions of these banks and it is one that crosses partisan divide. I think all members of this place are very concerned about the actions of the banking sector and the disregard they show for vulnerable members of our community.
It is worth noting some of the events that have unfolded over the last 24 hours. Yesterday, the Reserve Bank of Australia lifted the cash rate by 0.25 percentage points. This means the cash rate in Australia is now at an 11-year high of 3.6 per cent. This surpasses all the interest rate hikes that we saw since the 1990s, and this is the 10th successive interest rate hike in a row.
We know that the big banks are already passing these interest rates on to their customers. They are doing this despite the fact they are making enormous profits. The Commonwealth Bank made a profit of $5.1 billion for the second half of 2022. The NAB made a $2.15 billion profit for the fourth quarter of 2022. Westpac made a $5.3 billion full-year cash profit in November 2022, and ANZ made $6.5 billion in its full-year cash profits in October 2022.
They are making these huge profits, they are hiking up interest rates, and while they are making these huge profits and hiking up interest rates they are shutting down regional banks and they are dudding their customers in those communities of vital services. They are not recognising the role that these institutions should play in terms of offering a community service. I think it is outrageous. What we are seeing is corporate greed, and I welcome the clear message that this motion will send.
I indicate that we will be supporting the amendment put forward by the honourable Leader of the Opposition, and I appreciate her speaking to me about that. The honourable member made a fair point in that she noted the fact that the motion mentions one particular financial institution. That was because the decision regarding Coober Pedy was imminent at the time the motion was originally crafted, but as all members have identified, this is a matter that extends beyond one institution. It relates to all four of the big banks.
Hopefully, this will send a very clear message that, as members of parliament, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the community and we will fight for their interests against these big institutions and their corporate greed. With that, I commend the motion.
Question: Regional Bank Closures and Public Safety
22 February 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional bank closures.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, I asked the Minister for Regional Development about what action the government was taking regarding the bank closure in Coober Pedy and in other regional towns. The minister responded that:
…South Australia was amongst the worst impacted states in terms of regional bank closures. However…these are corporate decisions that are very much independent of the government of the day.
This morning, the ABC reported that locals in Coober Pedy are buying safes and are scared of being robbed while driving 500 kilometres to Port Augusta to make major deposits after the closure of the town's only bank. David Kelly, the Chief Executive of the District Council of Coober Pedy, was quoted in the article as saying that people are 'feeling pretty anxious about being pulled over on the road and robbed'.
My question to the minister therefore is: in light of these reports, what action has the minister taken to ensure the safety of people in Coober Pedy trying to access banking services? Specifically, has the minister raised the issue with the Minister for Police? Have any additional resources been allocated to manage this problem, or does the minister simply maintain her view that this is a corporate decision, independent of the government of the day?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. I will certainly make inquiries with the Minister for Police. I haven't seen the article to which the honourable member is referring, but it may well be that the Minister for Police has done so. I think it's also worth mentioning that the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee of federal parliament is currently undertaking an inquiry into bank closures in regional Australia. They are taking submissions until, I think, the end of March. They intend at this stage to report by the end of this year.
I think that is also an important opportunity to make a number of these issues known, and I would encourage the honourable member, if he is in contact with people who are affected, to encourage them also to make such a submission. I think it's an important opportunity to be able to shine even greater light on the inconveniences and difficulties faced by people in regional areas when banks do close, and that the banks are constantly making these decisions. They are independent decisions, but they seem to take no account of the difficulties that they place on regional people when they do take these decisions.
Motion: Regional Bank Closures
22 February 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:
That this council—
1. Notes with concern that:
(a) Westpac has decided to close their branch in Coober Pedy, leaving the community without a bank; and
(b) at least 22 regional towns have been left without a bank branch including Burra, Kapunda, Mannum, Maitland, Peterborough, Roxby Downs, Tailem Bend, Tumby Bay and Willunga.
2. Recognises the adverse impact of the closure of banks on regional communities and in particular the impediment it places on community and business activity.
3. Condemns the closure of bank branches in the regions and calls on Westpac to reconsider its decision to close its branch in Coober Pedy.
4. Calls on the Malinauskas government to formally raise the matter with Westpac and advocate for the retention of bank branches in the regions.
This motion is calling on this council to note with concern that Westpac has decided to close their branch in Coober Pedy, leaving the community without a bank. It notes that at least 22 regional towns have been left without a bank branch, including Burra, Kapunda, Mannum, Maitland, Peterborough, Roxby Downs, Tailem Bend, Tumby Bay and Willunga. It recognises the impact of these closures on regional communities and it condemns the closure of bank branches in the regions. It calls on Westpac to reconsider its decision to close its branch in Coober Pedy and also calls on the Malinauskas government to formally raise this matter and to advocate for the retention of bank branches in the regions.
Ideally, a motion like this would not be necessary because the government would be doing everything in its power to address this issue and to ensure that regional communities have the services they require, but I have been very disappointed by the laissez-faire approach that seems to have been taken by the minister, the Hon. Clare Scriven, on this issue.
I have asked the minister repeatedly in this chamber what the government have been doing and, really, it seems that the minister's solution for people living in Coober Pedy, where they cannot access an essential service like a bank, is consumer pressure. I am not sure what level of consumer pressure one can apply when they do not have access to any alternate services in their community.
The latest innovation that the minister has proposed is to make a submission to a Senate inquiry. Of course, I am supportive of members of the community doing that, but I had hoped that we would see a little bit more of an assertive approach from the Malinauskas government with respect to such a vital service.
This is particularly pertinent when one considers the enormous profits that are being made by our big banks. Let's consider some of the facts. Let's consider the latest financial reporting season. Westpac recorded a $5.65 billion profit and a 19 per cent decline in their operating costs. The NAB recorded a $6.81 billion profit, which represents an 11.5 per cent increase from the year earlier. ANZ recorded a $7.19 billion profit, which is up 16 per cent on the previous year.
On 15 February, the Commonwealth Bank announced that it had recorded a jump in its half-year profit to $5.1 billion—an increase of 9 per cent from the year earlier—off the back of rapidly rising interest rates and stronger business leading growth. Despite these amazingly significant profits, these enormous profits, Australia's big four banks continue to close their branches in regional towns throughout South Australia as well as the rest of the country and, of course, they continue to profit from rising interest rates.
It really is an outrage. Investing in South Australia's regions is important for our region's ongoing economic growth, sustainability and quality of life, particularly following the recent challenges of widespread drought, bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. Banks provide a variety of services to their customers. They include enabling customers to open and close accounts, to deposit and withdraw cash, to obtain various types of loans. Historically, banks have tended to deliver these services through their branches and we know that this is particularly vital for older South Australians.
When a bank leaves a town, it leaves locals unable to use these services. On 17 February this year, Westpac closed its Coober Pedy branch. The closure of the branch effectively leaves the town without a bank and it is already impacting vulnerable consumers, particularly the elderly and First Nations people. Customers are being forced to drive to either Port Augusta or interstate to Alice Springs to access a branch, both of which are more than 500 kilometres away.
We heard today—and I raised this matter in question time with the minister—reports that residents of Coober Pedy are anxious about travelling in a car with large wads of cash because they are living in fear that they might be pulled over and robbed. This is not a satisfactory response and, again, what does the government suggest: make a submission to the Senate inquiry. Vote with your feet. Really, this is not acceptable.
Unfortunately, Coober Pedy is not the only town in regional South Australia to have had all of their bank branches closed. Since 2012, the following towns have been left without a bank: Angaston, Barmera, Birdwood, Burra, Freeling, Gladstone, Kapunda, Lobethal, Mannum, Maitland, Uluru, Peterborough, Riverton, Roxby Downs, Strathalbyn, Tailem Bend, Tumby Bay and Willunga. A total of 69 branches have been closed throughout regional South Australia since 2012.
There has also been a significant decline in the number of branches in remote Australia wide. In fact, 41 per cent of all branches closed were in regional and remote areas in 2020, despite these areas only making up 28 per cent of the Australian population. In its final report, the Regional Banking Taskforce, set up by the federal government in 2021, found that many older Australians, persons with disabilities, migrant communities and First Nations people face greater challenges and require more assistance when they are using their banking services.
When the banks close their doors, the challenges for these consumers are exacerbated. The task force ran for a year and received 416 submissions from rural residents who were distressed about dwindling essential services, limited access to cash and the slow economic death of their towns.
Not only do these bank branch closures increase the time and cost required to travel to access similar services but there is also a loss of face-to-face banking that is reducing the availability of information on services. That information is normally provided at a face-to-face level that is easier for people to understand and helps them understand their financial decisions and the options that they face.
It is morally wrong for these institutions that are making massive profits to close their branches in regional and rural Australia. Bank branches are essential services and they should be kept open for our regional communities. The government has a responsibility to advocate on behalf of these residents.
I know there has been a lot of discussion about the cost-of-living crisis at the moment. The narrative seems to be that this is being driven by wages growth. We know, of course, that that is not true and that wages have not kept pace with inflation. Rather, what we are seeing is profit price inflation; that is, large corporations are making enormous profits and, in turn, that is driving up inflation. Those costs are now being faced by consumers, and we are seeing that with the cost of housing and other essential services in this country.
The big banks have been one of the major beneficiaries of profit price inflation in this country, and yet, in the face of those record profits, they close regional branches with impunity, they thumb their noses at the community, and they rake in these record profits and do not invest in any level of community service. I think it is absolutely outrageous. Really, the Malinauskas government needs to step up here, rather than simply palming it off onto other levels of government or saying it is all too hard. They need to step up and show some leadership.
I do want to put members on notice that I plan to bring this matter to a vote in a future parliamentary sitting, and I look forward to members getting behind this very sensible push to try to bring these big corporations to heel.
Question: Regional Bank Closures
21 February 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional bank closures.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In the last session of parliament I asked the minister what action had been taken to avoid the closure of the Coober Pedy bank branch. It has since been reported that Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank have paused some of their regional bank closures; however, this has not included closures in some of our South Australian regional communities. The bank branch in Cooper Pedy has now been closed, leaving that town without a bank, and another branch, in Tailem Bend, is still slated for closure.
Meanwhile, some of our big banks are reporting massive profits. The Commonwealth Bank reported a $5.15 billion cash net profit after tax for the half year ending 31 December, a 9 per cent increase on the previous year. The National Australia Bank announced an 18.7 per cent increase in their cash earnings for the first quarter of 2023, and last November Westpac released data showing that their statutory net profit was up 4 per cent to $5.69 billion for the full year 2022 compared to the full year of 2021.
My question to the minister therefore is: since the last session of parliament what action has she taken to ensure that no more regional towns are left without local bank branches?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his questions. I do know, as we all do, that over many years now the larger banking organisations have taken resources out of regional areas, and quite rightly many people in those areas are upset. They rely on those banks and they rely on those services, and they have every right to be angry and upset. I think when large corporations take resources out of regional communities no amount of spin can make up for that. It can't take away from the fact that it does hurt regional communities and makes life more difficult and in many circumstances also makes business more difficult.
According to 2021 figures that I have—I have seen quoted on I think theregional.com.au, who take a keen interest in highlighting the plight of regional banking—apparently South Australia was amongst the worst impacted states in terms of regional bank closures. However, as most people are aware, these are corporate decisions that are very much independent of the government of the day. Closures happened under the former Liberal state government, and unfortunately they will continue to happen under future governments as long as profit is put before people by these corporates.
Question: Regional Health Services
9 February 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional health services.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: It was reported yesterday that SA Pathology was restructuring, with 30 nurses being moved to other parts of the healthcare system. Eight of those nurses are from regional areas. This morning, on ABC radio, Elizabeth Dabars from the Nursing and Midwifery Federation said, and I quote:
This proposal looks to completely eliminate a nursing presence out in country South Australia.
'Completely eliminate', Mr President. My question to the minister, therefore, is:
1. Does the minister believe that having no SA Pathology nurses in regional communities is acceptable?
2. What action is she taking to ensure that this calamity is averted?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. I am happy to check, but I think the item to which he is referring is a consultation paper rather than a decision of the government. However, health, of course, is looked after by my colleague in the other place so I am more than happy to refer that direct question to him and bring back a response for the honourable member.
I am in frequent discussions with my colleagues in the other place about the various portfolio areas that they have responsibility for but which, of course, have direct impacts on regional South Australia. Some of the feedback that I have had in my many visits around the state have been positive in terms of the election commitments that were made by the Malinauskas Labor government, which we are in the process of fulfilling in terms of giving health a very high priority. In terms of this particular matter, I am happy to bring back an answer.
Question: Banks Closures in Regional SA
8 February 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of bank closures in the region.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Last week, The Advertiser reported that Westpac is closing their bank branch in Coober Pedy later this month, leaving the town without any bank. Over the last seven years, at least 50 regional bank branches have closed in South Australia. At least 22 towns have been left without a bank branch at all, including places such as Angaston, Burra, Kapunda, Mannum, Roxby Downs, Strathalbyn, Tailem Bend and Willunga.
Last week, the ATM at Coober Pedy ran out of cash. As a result, residents could only withdraw cash from the post office during business hours or by driving 500 kilometres to Port Augusta. My question to the Minister for Regional Development is: what action has the minister taken to date to ensure that banks in regional towns and communities stay open?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly, the decisions taken by banks, which don't appear anymore to have a sense of social responsibility, are very disappointing. The member refers to the number of banks that have closed across regional areas, and I know in terms of the closure at Coober Pedy, I think both the member for Giles and the member for Stuart have had conversations with me about this.
It is most unfortunate when these large corporations don't take any responsibility for providing services to regional communities. It is something that is regrettable, unfortunately part of the society within which we operate, which has private companies making these decisions. It means that it is not something that we have a direct opportunity to impact, but I am certainly willing to talk with my colleagues in the other place who have a more direct responsibility in terms of business and so on, and come back if there is any additional information that I can provide.
Question: Housing in Flood Affected Areas
30 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on the topic of housing in flood-affected areas.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, the Premier told the other place that over a thousand homes will be affected by the Murray River floods and those people will be requiring alternative accommodation. The Malinauskas government has committed to crisis and emergency accommodation in flood-affected areas to provide short-term solutions. Long-term solutions, however, will also be required, as demonstrated by the flood-affected areas in New South Wales.
In Lismore, in that state, authorities are still trying to find long-term solutions for flood-affected residents nine months after floods left thousands of people without homes. With vacancy rates of just 0.5 per cent in the Murray and Mallee regions and 0.73 per cent in the Riverland, the number of available homes is limited for people who need long-term accommodation while recovery efforts are being undertaken. My question to the minister, therefore, is:
1. Is the minister satisfied that there is sufficient availability of medium to long-term accommodation for flood-affected communities in South Australia?
2. What is the minister doing to ensure that there is an increase in housing stock in the affected regional areas?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries: I thank the honourable member for his question. It certainly is a very pertinent topic in that we are aware of the immediacy of the approaching waters and what that will mean for people who do need to temporarily relocate. Of course, the Minister for Human Services has been very active as part of the cross-government and cross-agency activities to address the kinds of emergency situations that people will find themselves in.
In terms of medium to long-term accommodation, this is well known to be a significant issue in regional South Australia, as indeed it is quite an issue in metropolitan Adelaide as well. They are very difficult circumstances for all regions, but then when we add to that something that has the kind of effects that we are expecting this flood event to have, it is simply an added difficulty and complexity.
The minister for housing in the other place and the Minister for Human Services in the other place, as well as the government, are working on medium and long-term strategies in terms of housing and I have no doubt that the Riverland and the situation that we are faced with because of the rising waters and the expected flood damage will form a big part of the thinking as we go forward.
In terms of response, there are national disaster funding arrangements that are in place when there are various natural disasters, and of course we have seen those in place in the other states. I am sure that we will be very active in working together to try to find solutions for residents in regional areas, particularly the Riverland and the Murraylands, who might be affected by this.
Livestock Amendment Bill
15 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise on behalf of the Greens in support of this bill. We recognise that biosecurity is vital to protect our precious environment and our native species. The Greens believe the protection and conservation of biodiversity are essential for the wellbeing of all life, and it is crucial to protect biodiversity from threats such as diseases and pests.
Australia's natural biosecurity advantage has helped to protect our communities from many diseases and pests that can cause illness or damage our environment and our agriculture. Although current animal disease threats are mostly confined to livestock, there is the potential for diseases to spread to native species and to threaten biodiversity, and it is important that we protect our local food security as well as our local species.
In South Australia, we have an enormous range of unique ecosystems and habitats that are vulnerable to invasive species and to pests. These can cause untold damage to human health, to agriculture and to our environment. There is also a consideration here for animal welfare. The spread of infectious diseases amongst livestock can cause untold suffering of animals. We hope this bill enables swift action to be taken to ease the suffering of animals by reducing the administrative burden that is placed in dealing with these responses and dealing quickly with biosecurity threats before they become widespread. I therefore confirm the Greens will be supporting this bill.
Question: Health Care in Regional SA
2 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional health.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In March 2020, the then Marshall Liberal government temporarily closed several rural accident and emergency departments due to COVID-19. Now, 2½ years later, the emergency departments at the following locations are still closed: Gumeracha, Strathalbyn, Mount Pleasant and Eudunda. Some of the hospitals have claimed they are not able to attract medical staff to regional hospitals. The Gumeracha medical centre has called it a 'crisis in our medical workforce'.
My question to the minister therefore is: what is the government doing to ensure that the health needs of regional communities are being met, and is the Minister for Regional Development developing strategies for attracting medical practitioners to the regions, so that these emergency departments can reopen?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly, regional health is an issue that comes up very frequently when I am out on one of my various and numerous regional trips, and certainly it is something that I have raised a number of times internally. In terms of the specifics about strategies being developed, I will refer that to my colleague in the other place, the Minister for Health, and bring an answer back to the honourable member and the chamber.
Reply received on 21 February 2023:
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has been advised:
A working group was established to consider the emergency services options for this community.
The working group recommended an after-hours nurse-led clinic based at Gumeracha District Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, with virtual support from a medical practitioner. Under the proposal, the after-hours clinic would operate Monday to Friday 4pm to 8pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 4pm. A community forum was held on 12 January 2023 to inform the broader community on the details of the proposed model, which was supported. The community now have the opportunity to provide feedback until 27 January 2023, and staff consultation has commenced.
A similar process is now underway for Strathalbyn with a working group having met twice before Christmas to consider options.
Extensive work is underway to ensure we are attracting medical practitioners to all regional and rural areas of South Australia, recognising their importance to the health and the fabric of rural communities. South Australia's Rural Medical Workforce Plan 2019-24 lays out these strategies, the most critical of which has been the successful introduction of South Australia's Rural Generalist training program. The SA Rural Generalist Program is increasing the number of doctors who specifically train in rural medicine in a regional and rural community, based on evidence that the longer doctors spend training in a rural area, the more likely they are to practise long-term in that community. The Rural Generalist Program SA has overseen a significant expansion in rural medical training, with 2023 projected to see further increases. For example, rural intern positions have more than tripled to 18 in 2022 and intern rotations from metropolitan to rural areas increased from 20 in 2019 to 47 in 2022.
The South Australian government also supports the recruitment and retention of rural doctors by funding the Rural Doctors Workforce Agency to undertake targeted recruitment campaigns and to provide supports including upskilling, spouse and childcare supports and business supports to attract rural doctors to South Australia.
In addition, the government has committed to a staged rollout of 10 specialist doctors in regional South Australia, establishing more local medical services for local communities.