The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA) has welcomed the appointment of a new State Minister for Local Government, alongside the announcement of a new super housing portfolio which is expected to help the state with its urgent housing needs. 

Joe Szakacs has been appointed as the new South Australian Minister for Local Government. 

LGASA President, Mayor Dean Johnson, said that the South Australian Premier’s announcement marked a promising step to accelerate efforts to address infrastructure and housing delivery across the state.

“The integration of key portfolios under Minister Champion – including housing, urban development, planning and SA Water – will hopefully result in a more streamlined approach to tackle the challenges of housing supply and affordability, together with the infrastructure that is needed to support it,” Mayor Johnson said.

“The challenges our communities face with housing are substantial and overcoming them requires not only robust leadership but also collective action.

“Without sufficient housing, we’re unable to attract and house workers, and that threatens economic development.

“Bringing functions like Renewal SA and Planning and Land Use Services together will have strategic benefit to the state, but this must be balanced so local autonomy and community input isn’t lost in decisions.”

Mayor Johnson said that there are significant reforms still underway in the state’s planning system and the LGASA will continue to advocate to ensure local communities can be a part of planning decisions to meet the unique needs of suburban and regional areas.

“Housing is one of the top priorities across the state – current projects and future investments hinge on getting that right – and the creation of the new housing portfolio is a positive signal of the government’s focus.

“The LGASA has been advocating for a state-wide and coordinated approach to address the barriers to housing and we’ll be looking forward to engaging on how this new super portfolio will work at a practical level.” 

The LGASA said that as the state continues to grow, the integration of local government functions with broader state economic and social strategies – particularly those focused on housing and infrastructure development – becomes increasingly crucial.

Mayor Johnson welcomed Minister Szakacs to the local government portfolio, expressing enthusiasm for the potential collaboration ahead.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with Minister Szakacs to advance matters for local government and share the priorities of our members,” Mayor Johnson said.

“Local councils are at the frontline of addressing community needs and by working in genuine partnership with the State Government we can help improve the quality of life for all South Australians.

“As lead of the Local Government Functional Support Group, the LGASA worked closely with the Minister in his former emergency services portfolio – most recently during the River Murray floods.

“We’re committed to work hand-in-hand with Minister Szakacs and the entire cabinet to partner on key priorities like preventive health, circular economy, climate change, infrastructure, library services and more.”

Mayor Johnson emphasised the importance of the current review of election and participation matters in local government which looks at how councils connect with communities during the election and throughout the entire council term.

“We value the ongoing review process which aims to enhance local government elections and participation.

“Local governments are place shapers, delivering programs and services to meet community needs – local democracy and engagement in that process is essential and we’ve made a number of suggestions on ways this could be strengthened.”

The LGASA said that it will be meeting with the Minister for Local Government and his office to discuss key priorities of the sector, current reform work and opportunities for continued partnership.

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