RDA discussed as alternative to KI Commissioner

KI Commissioner Wendy Campana. File photo
KI Commissioner Wendy Campana. File photo

The Kangaroo Island Council at its July meeting indicated it will seek more support from the Regional Development Australia organisation now that the position of KI Commissioner is being abolished. 

No formal resolution to change funding or the relationship with RDA has however been passed yet.

Mayor Peter Clements informed the councillors that Premier Steven Marshall had been lobbied heavily to reverse the decision on the KI Commissioner while on his brief fly-in visit to help officially open the upgraded Kangaroo Island Airport.

Local member for Mawson Leon Bignell also made an impassioned speech at Parliament calling for the position of KI Commissioner to be retained.

Mr Clements said it was disappointing that the State Government was able to abolish the position despite the KI Commissioner position being enshrined in an Act of Parliament.

He said more should be done to close any loopholes and retain funding for Kangaroo Island in any future agreements and Acts of Parliament.

In the wake of the decision, the councillors resolved to renew the council’s relationship with the Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island branch of the Regional Development Australia organisation.

Since the formation of the KI Commissioner’s office two years ago, the council had kept its subscription to the RDA office to a minimum.

But the councillors at the July meeting agreed that the council might have to expand that relationship with RDA CEO Damien Cook and new chairman James Sexton.

The councillors also suggested that perhaps Commissioner Wendy Campana could be given some form of role within the RDA.

Council CEO Andrew Boardman said he had recently hosted Mr Sexton, the CEO and Regional Development Manager on a tour of Kangaroo Island and that they visited the proposed golf course site at Pelican Lagoon, American River and Kingscote wharf. 

Mr Boardman since the meeting as told The Islander that the council would however need a pass a resolution in order change its funding contribution to the RDA, but this point had not yet been reached.

The council had remained a member of the local RDA, but at a reduced membership fee for the last couple of years since the formation of the Office of Commissioner for Kangaroo Island (OCKI).

The reduced membership was due to the RDA struggling to have the funding to have any sort of a presence on the island and was also recognition that more could accomplished through OCKI partnership with project match funding etc.

“Given the OCKI looks like it may be removed, then the mayor is quite right with regards to refreshing our agreement and commitment to the RDA, we may need to do this,” he said.

“I would suggest that council would be looking for a reasonably solid commitment from the RDA to have a better presence than they have had in the past before we up the contribution,” he said.

“(RDA) funding model may also change under a State Liberal Government with a focus on the regions and we are yet to see how this might impact them and us as a remote member council.

“My time with their chairman, CEO and Regional Development Manager was to provide all of them with an overview of the Island, its issues, challenges and the opportunities there are for the RDA to piggyback projects off the back of the interest the world has in us.

“I’d like to see closer working relationships, as they would be beneficial to the Island and the business community.”