Friday, July 26, 2024

New research reveals value of SA jetties

New research has shown that the South Australian economy could lose over $103 million every year if coastline jetties ceased to exist.

The data, released by the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA), the Value of Jetties report for the first time places a dollar figure on just how much jetties are worth to SA communities and the economy.

Engaging more than 2,400 South Australians in a survey, the research asked questions to help understand how jetties are used – including for fishing, walking and sightseeing – the wellbeing they generate for users, and their economic impact.

Findings showed people who visited a jetty in the past year made around 44 return trips annually, spending anywhere between $26 and $50 during each visit.

Across the state, this is enough to support 800 Full Time Equivalent jobs and inject $103.25 million in Gross State Product into the local economy every year, the Association said in a statement.

“A striking 80% of respondents voiced support for the State Government to take financial responsibility for jetty maintenance, with over half also agreeing councils should play a role in upkeep.”

LGA President, Mayor Dean Johnson.

LGA President, Mayor Dean Johnson said the Value of Jetties report reaffirms and supports what most South Australians already know – that jetties are incredibly valuable to our state and are worth investing in.

“What this data tells us is jetties aren’t just nice to look at – they stimulate the South Australian economy in a significant way,” Mayor Johnson said.

“When people visit jetties, not only are they improving their mental and physical wellbeing through exercise and enjoying the fresh air, but they’re also stopping by the local café, restaurant or caravan park and spending money with local businesses.

“Unfortunately, many of our jetties across South Australia need serious repair – some are so bad they’ve been forced to close due to safety concerns, which is a huge shame especially during the summer months.

“Extreme storms hit the coastline and cause significant damage to jetties – that kind of impact doesn’t fit into wear and tear maintenance; they often need structural investment which runs into the millions.

“Councils are collectively spending around $2 million each year to take care of these assets so they can be enjoyed by locals and visitors to our coastal regions, but they don’t have the capacity to fund repairs alone.”

Mayor Johnson said the SA Government committed $20 million over the next four years in the budget – which has shrunk to $10 million for council-leased jetties.

“Frankly it’s a drop in the ocean in terms of the amount of funding needed to make a real difference,” he said.

“We can’t keep kicking this issue down the road, which is why we’re asking the State Government to work with local government on a sustainable long-term solution to secure the future of our jetties and ensure these valuable assets aren’t lost for good.”

The Value of Jetties report found major cost drivers of capital and maintenance works for South Australian jetties include pylon replacement, deck repairs, storm damage and lighting improvements.

Yorke Peninsula Council Mayor, Darren Braund said funding currently being offered by the State Government was conditional, requiring some councils to lock into deals for another 15-plus years – which could place significant financial burdens on communities long-term.

“Essentially, some councils are being told ‘you can have some funding upfront, but only if you continue looking after these jetties long-term’, which has the potential to be extremely costly in five or 10-years’ time,” Mayor Braund said.

“Unfortunately, many jetties around the state need significant upgrades and will only continue to worsen without appropriate attention – which smaller regional councils, in particular, can’t fund on their own.

“Think of it like renting a house; as a tenant, you’d be ill-advised to lock into a decade-long lease if your roof is caving in and bathroom is rotting, without any assurance from the landlord they will help fund ongoing structural repairs.

“This is what some councils are being asked to do in order to receive funding from the State Government, and we think a better deal needs to be reached.

“To put the funding shortfall into perspective, Yorke Peninsula Council has been quoted $16 million to upgrade the Edithburgh jetty, which is the number one dive site in South Australia due to its deep water and abundant marine life.

“Our council can only afford to spend $200,000 annually across all 12 jetties leased within the council boundaries, that’s nowhere near enough money in the budget to fund upgrades.”

Mayor Braund said as a regional council, Yorke Peninsula simply does not have the ratepayer base to support this kind of project without external funding – either from federal or state governments, or both – and it’s a situation many other coastal councils are facing.

“Divers and snorkelers come from all over the state to swim at Edithburgh jetty and it would be devastating for communities if this vital coastal asset – and others like it – was left to fall by the wayside due to government inaction,” Mayor Braund said.

“As the Value of Jetties report points out, jetties are worth investing in and we hope we can work with the State Government on ways we can make this happen and secure their future for generations to come.”

Access the complete Value of Jetties report on the LGA website: lga.sa.gov.au/jetties.

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