Cabinet visit

The State Government rolled into town this week bearing gifts and hosting a community forum.
The gifts included $10.4m to improve road safety, $300,000 for equipment at the new medical centre currently under construction next to the Mt Barker hospital and a $10,000 sweetener for sports clubs affected by the Anembo Park fire.
For a Government so utterly strapped for cash and under extreme budget pressure, significant expenditure such as the $10.4m road safety funding was factored into the budget many months ago so the announcements this week were a public relations exercise.
It is a standard political procedure performed by both sides of government.
It is the same thinking used by the early explorers who gave the natives a handful of shiny beads and a few blankets in order to placate them.
The real exercise of this week was supposed to be listening to the community.
But the forum on Sunday night in Mt Barker, which attracted about 250 people, was also largely a public relations exercise.
A wide array of questions – some well thought out, other less so – were a necessary part of the evening.
But a more structured session focusing on the current issues the community is facing – lack of infrastructure, public transport, local jobs and the State Government financial support for the district’s expansion, would have delivered a better outcome.
The problems are well documented and clearly understood by the Government.
Yet despite knowing the issues the Premier delivered nothing of substance … apart from some shiny beads.
The community has heard soothing words before from the State Labor Government.
It promised to listen when it held similar forums in the lead up to rezoning 1300ha around Mt Barker before completely ignoring what it heard.
In a few weeks this weekend will be forgotten, the second promised Country Cabinet box will have been ticked, and the status quo can return.
It was also a shame none of the local Liberal politicians attended the forum. It was a golden opportunity to ask some tough questions.
An opportunity either missed or ignored.
Let’s hope we get more than words in the Premier’s promised response to the issues in 90 days.

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